In the second pathway of the Effective Online Teaching Course, understanding how to navigate the digital environment and different online platforms and their delivery methods is important in being an effective online teacher. There are 3 sections:
The three main character traits associated with an exemplary digital citizen are:
Dr. Mike Ribble shares nine subcategories within these areas: Digital Access, Digital Commerce, Digital Communication, Digital Literacy, Digital Etiquette, Digital Law, Digital Rights and Responsibilities, Digital Health and Wellness, Digital Security. (Read More)
From an educational perspective, it is important to develop digital citizenship skills at an early age. The video from Common Sense Media (below) engages students at a younger age on what it means to be a digital citizen. There are some great age appropriate resources for parents, educators, and leaders. See the resource links (below).
Joining a Digital Learning Community (DLC) unites others despite distance, develops respect for new perspectives and ideas, and provides a secure place to learn and work on trustworthy collaborative and social platforms. DLCs provide opportunities for participates to work and learn from others with similar interests.
In the resources section (below), I've provided a few digital learning communities of which I belong. National Council of Teachers of Mathematics provides a great, reliable membership that allows teachers to collaborate and share mathematics insights, strategies, and resources. Scholastic is a great platform for resources and student learning activities. These are resources that greatly help with my focus on mathematics education. I've included Ed Web which is a great resource for educators to take PD courses in all areas of education. I've also included some other websites I've learned about in my research. IMLS has a great downloadable digital book called, "Building Digital Communities: A Framework for Action."
In addition, I use social media to communicate, share, and collaborate with educators, parents, and teachers. See my share buttons in my footer. Students enjoy platforms in which they can communicate and collaborate in visual ways. My students use Google Classroom for this purpose.
Ideal digital learning communities have a collaborative platform, appeals to many types of users, and focuses on a topic or closely related topics that bring users together. In my research, Brainly, what was OpenStudy, provides a place for students and moderators to help with homework questions. Users also earn points by helping others with step by step explanations. It has a huge, world-wide social learning network with a list of well-known supporters listed on their website like Open Courseware, NYU, CNN, and Georgia Research Alliance.
I made an account to see how it was up and it organizes itself as a question/answer service where you can earn badges and points for answering a certain number of questions in a certain amount of time. Users can filter the forum based on subject area, school level, and completion status. Another key component is that they have a social presence in which they have live posts. Finally, they have created an app for both apple and google.
I've included a video of Brainly's introduction along with some other impressive digital learning communities.
Part of being a responsible digital citizen is understanding how to find reputable digital resources. The domain name system (DNS) is a way for computers to communicate with networks using IP addresses, numerical addresses of which domain names represent. There are reliable addresses which registrars (owners) use that contain top-level domain names such as .com, .net, .edu, .gov, and .org.
Web of Trust (WOT) is a browser add-on for chrome application that offers reputation ratings for websites that you visit. Stop Badware is a database to block harmful websites and is used by Google and Mozilla. The United Nations lists five criteria used in evaluating web resources: accuracy, authority, objectivity, currency, and coverage. The additional links provided by the UN on this subject are no longer up to date.
As a way of collecting digital resources and websites, participants can use a host of apps such as Google Bookmarks, Pocket, and Delicious. Note that Google Bookmarks is a personal tool and not available to share publicly. I use Pinterest for most of my saving and storing of digital resources. I've installed a Pinterest bookmarklet into my chrome web browser to make this process easy. For the purposes of this class, I've decided to create an additional account with Pocket (Pocket Profile) to see how it works and what benefits it has compared to Pinterest.
The last piece to this is how to educate our youth on evaluating resources for use in research. I've included a video that provides a good overview on evaluating resources that parents, educators, students, and digital citizens will find useful. Educating our students on responsible digital citizenship is a must as part of early childhood education and as they enter secondary education.
What policies or procedures might need to be in place to make the maximum student learning possible?
I think it is important to review with students what makes a resource reputable using the 5 criteria: accuracy, authority, objectivity, currency, and coverage. As part of students' use of computers and the internet to participate in learning activities and research, they should engage in a digital citizenship course appropriate for their age. Teachers need to help students navigate appropriate resources and use platforms that help guide students to safe sites and collaborative environments. Our school as utilized GoGuardian to help create and encourage a healthy and safe tech environment. Technology contracts should be standard as part of the class syllabus and school policies and procedures.
Participants are given the responsibility and the obligation to contribute, protect, and support the community with which they engage. To do so, Acceptable Use Policies (AUPs) are crafted to enable digital learning while protecting intellectual property. Understanding Fair Use is essential for educators to legally use copyrighted materials for instructional purposes. Communicating & upholding AUPs can serve as the foundation for how DLCs engage users in the digital environment. DLCs can model Fair Use practices and Copyright credit by referencing creators, utilizing resources that are sharable, and creating materials and resources that fall within the creative commons attribution licenses. When engaging students in digital learning communities, navigating them through digital content and how it is being used, shared, and referenced will create a responsible and thoughtful digital citizen.
Be Internet Awesome!
While I didn't create this resource, Google shared an amazing tool to bring awareness during Safer Internet Day (SID). To consistently address this from week to week, I'm asking my students to play the interactive game, Interland.
I used the curriculum designed by Google to create a Padlet page for students to engage in the safer internet series. I adjusted each of the 5 key topics so that students would engage in a mindful discussion, participate in a peer collaborative activity, and navigate through related parts of the Interland game. What I love about Padlet, especially with the latest update, is that students can draw, add video and audio recordings, embed photos, map locations, and websites, and take their own photos.
The most important step educators can take to ensure digital safety is utilizing digital sites and tools that protect themselves and others. Using the Padlet example I created above, it is important for teachers to create settings that ensure a safe use of the site. How students and others access the site, post, and share are important to address.
It is important to find a healthy balance between the time spent online and immersed in technology and the time spent away from technology and being social with family and friends. While sitting at a computer, proper posture helps reduce muscle and skeletal fatigue and potential long-term complications.
Ergonomics addresses the need for work life to fit person, taking special care to limit unhealthy habits and risk factors that could lead to injury on or off the job. Training, identification of problems, early reporting of potential issues, implementing strategic solutions, and following up consistently on its progress are recommended and outlined on the United States Department of Labor website.
Additionally, Healthy Computing specifically addresses correct computer and keyboard placement along with proper chair adjustments and workspace layout. All of these are contributing factors to discomfort and pain. Kimberly Young goes so far to say that too much time in front of the computer on the internet can eventually lead to internet addiction, of which research and treatment is needed.
Digital Health Calendar
Focusing on a healthy balance is important. While outlining and implementing my digital health calendar, I recognized that I had to make adjustments mostly to how I interact with the internet and computer at home. As a teacher, I've chosen to have a standing desk to keep me on my feet and moving. What I recognized that I do and made adjustments for is going home and after winding down for the evening slouching on the couch in front of the TV, using my computer. While I regularly implement healthy habits, my calendar reflects a focus on these adjustments.
It's equally important to consider how students are learning. Are students expected to sit in their seats all day? Are there opportunities to get up and move around. I make efforts to consistently create movement moments in which the kids can stretch, engage in some exercises, or take a quick lap around the school. While more of students' learning is online, there are still plenty of opportunities to break up screen time with diversified learning experiences that extend past the computer.
Knowing how to communicate effectively and in a timely manner is essential to the success of a digital learning platform. (Standard J) Teachers need to be able to provide equitable access to resources, materials, communication tools, and applications that allow participants to actively learn and succeed. With that in mind, all this needs to be carried out in ethical and responsible ways to ensure participants not only can learn in a safe digital space, but also contribute to the vitality and security of that platform. Part of creating a safe platform means vetting and providing reputable, reliable, and trustworthy resources.
Artifact | Reputable Digital Resources
While this is all important on the teacher end, it's just as important that the teacher is able to communicate expectations of safety and the utilization of trustworthy resources. This allows for thoughtful participation amongst members and fosters trust between the teacher and fellow participants.
It is also important for resources themselves to be used in a respectful and appropriate manner. Keeping the 4 pillars of fair use in mind, digital learning communities must attribute work when necessary and adhere to copyright laws. Keeping private information secure is paramount to maintaining a healthy experience. (Standard E)
Finally, as teachers and mentors, we need to advocate for ourselves and for users of the internet to find a balance between the digital world and the built environment We must be aware of our digital health. As the teacher, it is our job to promote academic success which can only be achieved through a balanced use of internet time and other activities off the virtual tech grid.
Artifact | Digital Safety for Students
The lessons that were most beneficial to me were how to communicate to students the importance of digital citizenship (Participate 3- Digital Resources & Netiquette) and the importance of creating a safe environment and promoting digital safety (Participate 4- Digital Safety & Security) with students. Taking this opportunity to research the resources available to do these two things has helped me be more prepared to lead students digitally. It's provided me insights into how to manage digital learning communities and educate students on how to be responsible digital participants.
I've embedded the 3 artifacts into this blog post as well.
What are the issues when choosing between Open Source vs. Commercial Software?
Open Source often has limitations. This could be the number of people that can use a program, such as Cisco who's free version only allows 3 people per online meeting. Sometimes these limitations make it difficult to adequately collaborate or share in realtime in the digital classroom. Open Source software may also have increased issues of compatibility, technical support, or flexibility in its usage.
Commercial Software can become prohibitively expensive and have issues of compatibility with other programs or integrations with platforms that combine and utilize different programs due to its copyright terms. It's often challenging to determine if a full commercial software product is a good fit for a particular institution's or user's needs and thus trial periods and financial commitments may result in wasted opportunities for more applicable or compatible platforms.