Learning2.013 ~ Story Through the Lense

I put this together just for fun and to practice my mad (newly learned) skills on digital storytelling to get ready for my C3 project 🙂  I wish I could say that I used what I’ve learned in coding as well, and although I’m making headway in the Code Academy, I just realized WordPress does a lot of the coding for me.  But look out for my Scratch project, coming soon to this blog… 😉

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L12eNl9wxYY[/youtube]

Application – iMovie
Photos – iPhone & Flickr
Music – ‘Girasole’ by Giorgia
Font – Avenir

#GoodbyeBreakingBad

Did you watch it?  The finale of all finales?… … … Do you even know what I’m talking about?  If you don’t, it’s cool.  It’s only a matter of time before you decide to binge-watch all 5 seasons of the best TV show in television history, Breaking Bad.  But this post isn’t about the show’s 100% pure awesomeness (inside joke, again, if you haven’t seen it, I apologize), this post is about the power of the media and its undeniable and unstoppable global connectivity.

**This post itself doesn’t include any spoilers, however, some of the links might lead to the online community’s reactions to the finale and they are likely to include spoilers**

I live in a timezone that is 14hrs ahead of the west, so my favorite TV shows are DVRd upon airing and saved on my hard drive waiting until I come back from work, ready for me to sit, relax and watch.  I love those moments when I unplug and ‘lend’ my thoughts to fictional characters on the screen. Global Connectivity It’s also worth mentioning that in the last 10 years, TV shows have upped their game incredibly and a lot of the writing and performances are outstanding.  But I digress.  As an avid TV watcher, I rely on the availability of online media to not only get the episodes immediately after they have aired, but also to  read up on what the online viewing community is saying.  This sense of community is at the core of global connectivity.

You might be wondering, why is this so important to me, I mean, it’s just a TV show right?  Maybe to bring up the topic of a global community in the context of a TV show is a bit superficial (you might change your mind if you watched this genius show, just saying ;)).  But the ability to connect in real time with people from all over the world, who speak different languages, who come from different cultures, who think in different ways with different perspectives… all over one common topic (be it a TV show or any other), is a great privilege.

Don’t get me wrong, it can also be overwhelming and sometimes a pain in the neck (I hate spoilers!).  So how can one person keep up with all these global interactions?  Just today, as I opened my HuffPo feed, three days after the BB finale aired, it’s still a much talked about topic in the online community.   If you look up any Twitter #s related to the show (#GoodbyeBreakingBad, #BreakingBad, #BreakingBadFinale, etc), they’re still “blowing up” (trending and relevant) as people continue to talk about it.

This community, these connections, allow all of us to feel like we’re part of something big.  That we all have a voice.  And as we connect to these communities, we become active listeners of different global perspectives.

Connect in Real Time...

For instance, these critics (and some of the actors from the show) LOVED the BB finale, where as this critic was very disappointed.  I read both opinion pieces and although it didn’t change how I felt about it myself, it did make me think of how awesome it is that we can all see things in different ways.

I also felt validated.  I love this show! And it’s cool to read up on others who feel just as strongly about it as I do.  I mean, it’s not like it’s part of my professional life (the story line is about a chemistry teacher who is diagnosed with terminal cancer and decides to start a meth lab with an ex student to make money and secure his family’s future before he dies… hooked yet?!); nor is it an essential part of my personal life… It’s just pure entertainment. You know that feeling when you find out someone else has read a book you loved? And loved it too? Or didn’t? It doesn’t matter! That feeling of sharing that commonality is what’s awesome.  Now think of it in a way bigger scale… Imagine finding a whole global community that you share something with, that not only you can be a part of but contribute to it as well.  Pretty powerful stuff.

A global community of this can now empower people to share their views in real time about all sorts of issues and topics.  I quickly realize that this was not possible 20, 15 or even 10 years ago.  I talk about a TV show, but can you fathom the impact on current world issues?  A platform that gives anyone a voice, and not just that, but gives influential people a chance to hear these different voices?  A privilege.  A great one.

Ponder on these thoughts of global connectivity, the impact it has on us as educators, world citizens and/or avid TV watchers.  I’d love to hear your thoughts via this blog or Twitter – In fact, I love that I can hear your thoughts via this blog or Twitter 🙂  We may never meet face to face, but the fact that we are all part of COETAIL’s online community is certainly a privilege in itself.

Also, if/when you decide to watch BB, don’t forget to join the online community who will hold your hand (albeit digitally) through the intense story line.  So good!

A letter to Creative Commons, Part 2

Dear CeeCee,

How are you friend?  It’s been a while since I last wrote.  Not fair.  You get to hear about me so little when I hear about you and how you’re doing all the time!  You’re breaking ground and I have a front row seat to your success.  Good on you 🙂

CC, can I just say, following your work has been nothing short of amazing.  I get it now, what you’re doing.  And it makes so much sense:  Work is created.  Creators want to put their work out there.  Sometimes their work inspires others.  Others borrow it for inspiration but give credit to creators.  It’s just like a very good friend reminded me recently, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” – Charles Caleb Colton (Public domain btw ;)).

But you know what? I’m a visual learner, and this infographic really helped me:

Photo credit: https://www.gcflearnfree.org/useinformationcorrectly/module/12/print
Photo credit: https://www.gcflearnfree.org/useinformationcorrectly/

I get questions about you all the time, especially from some that have heard about you but are still having trouble understanding your ideology.  For most, material out there is one or the other: private (copyright) or public (free-for-all).  So your idea of shared material is new to them, as it was to me when I wrote you last, so I get it.  But infographics make explaining what you’re all about so much easier!  I plan to use this infographic in the future to help me spread the word of the great work you’re doing CC, anyone who creates material and wants to share it, and everyone who borrows material and/or is inspired by others, now has a good understanding of how to share material online.  Genius!

Anyway CC, I hope you continue to do as well as you have and that your message keeps spreading, especially among the digital natives that create content everyday and inspire themselves by others’ work.  There’s so much out there after all!

Sincerely your friend,

Ceci

 

Cyberbullying: See it. Stop it. Beat it.

Digital citizenship is the hot topic of the day for educators.  Anytime the innovative transformation of learning through technology comes up, digital citizenship is brought up and discussed just as much.  As educators, we cannot avoid talking about it, even when the conversation gets heated and we all end up coming to the same conclusion:  How can we motivate, encourage and invite (not ‘force’) our learners to make positive digital citizenship choices?

When I wrote about clashing with a certain online game, I was too upset to really wonder what that question meant.  I still struggle to answer that question, but it has become part of the core of how I integrate technology on a daily basis in my teaching practice.   As my (very delayed) Course 2 project, I started an after school activity which gathered a group of grade 4 and 5 students who were ‘invited’ to join this ASA and become part of a digital citizenship campaign.

Our first step was to create a Twitter account (follow us @alwaysTHINKsis).  Talk about jumping into the deep end: grade 4 and 5 students tweeting to the world about their thoughts on digital citizenship.  Risky.  But isn’t that what we want to know? What they think? What they perceive digital citizenship to be?  Here are some of their tweets:

@alwaysTHINKsis @alwaysTHINKsis

The next time I met with my THINKers, I took an even bigger risk.  I thought about Garr Reynolds’ quote on his blog about putting ‘vulnerability on the line’ especially when we have a passionate curiosity about the things we don’t know.   I want to know what my learners really think and I must take risks to dig deeper.

So I showed them this:

Credit commonsensemedia.org
Credit commonsensemedia.org

I asked them to reflect on this image for 10 minutes and write their thoughts on a Padlet.

THINKers

I used versions of some of the these questions by Media Literacy Clearinghouse:  What is the purpose of this image?  What does the message say?  Do you agree with the message?  How do you feel when you read/see this image?  And here’s what they said:

I still struggle with the question. Even though this is an invitation to the conversation of digital citizenship, I still wonder how motivated my students are to transfer this reflection to real life online situations. But in the interest of ending this blog post on an inspiring note, here is a post-reflection tweet from Brook, one of the THINKers:

@alwaysTHINKsis

Awesome 🙂

We’ve Come so Far

While cleaning out my work mailbox the other day, I found this email I sent our eLearning (previously known as ‘Tech’) team.  Please read on and I’ll explain why it was so important (although risky) for me to share.

Date: February 8, 2012
 
Dear Technology Team,
 
I had some wonderings regarding the decision to block networking sites (i.e. Facebook, Pinterest) from our server during school hours at SIS (Shekou International School).  There was a time when I pushed for such a block, especially when students can access these sites and use them unproductively or even inappropriately during school hours.  However, as we reflect on the use of technology at SIS, I wondered about the disadvantages of blocking such sites.
 
From a support teacher’s point of view, one that feeds on the creative ideas provided online to continue to enrich the support given to the curriculum (Pinterest is a great example); I wonder if this restriction will have a negative impact in the way I look for inspiration online.  Also, as the Double Happiness Committee representative, I’m currently trying to encourage SIS staff members to ‘Like’ our new DHC page on Facebook (this undertaking was also an inspiration by the PD given by Kim Confino).  This is already a hard sell and the popularity of our page hasn’t taken off the way I would’ve liked; and I wonder if having Facebook blocked on campus has had an effect on the popularity of the page.  How can I ask staff members to ‘like’ us when our own server won’t allow us to visit it?
 
In my experiences, I’ve seen that any technology brought to the masses can have one of two effects:  impress or intimidate.  I wonder if blocking Facebook or other networking sites that are blocked in China, adds to the intimidation rather than inspiration that such networking can bring.  I’m very well aware that when technology is used inappropriately, the consequences can be brutal.  But if an educational establishment that fosters exploration and inquiry like SIS restricts the use of such websites, I wonder if the message we’re sending is that blocking the sites has a more effective impact than educating and training for their appropriate use.  Therefore if the teaching staff is restricted from using these sites freely, how can we impart our knowledge of the right uses of this technology to our students?  How can we learn to be guides for our students when they’re out there surfing networking sites in this technology heavy world?
 
And lastly, as a tech person myself, one who not only loves the use of technology but also strives to explore it in all its entirety to improve my practice as an educator; I wondered if I would be writing this email a few years ago.  Like I said, I used to be on the front lines when it came to blocking sites, always with the thought of protecting our students from using them inappropriately.  But that hasn’t made them go away and it certainly hasn’t stopped me, you, our families, our friends, our students, our students’ parents; from using them on a day-to-day basis.  And now I wonder if I want my role as an educator to be to stigmatize those sites, label them as ‘something you do at home’, and support the restrictions imposed on them; or if I would rather be an educator who asks questions about ways to educate everyone in productive, creative and effective ways to use them.
 
Like you, I want our school to move forward in its use of technology in all its aspects.  And I wonder if these restrictions are a step back as opposed to a step in the direction we want SIS to go.  I don’t want this email to sound like a complaint, it’s not.  It’s simply meant to be a seed that sparks up a real discussion about what this block really means in the long run and whether it’s time to look into other options as to how best to educate others in using these sites, whether it’s at school or at home.  I would love to be part that discussion if it happens 🙂
 
I’d be lying if I said my first instinct was to share this email.  It’s almost like ‘airing our dirty laundry’, so to speak.  But as I re-read my thoughts and reflections on this topic, I can’t help but emphasize how far we have come.
 
We as a school.  Shekou International School is now one of the leading tech-integrating international schools in the world.  Our Twitter hashtag #SISRocks is shared, used and ‘trended’ on a daily basis to zoom in on how SIS is transforming learning.  A vast array of media is used to enhance our classrooms and our curriculum.  Our teachers and students have self-managed devices, 1-to-1 iPads starting in grade 4, and MacBooks up to grade 12.  Our Kindergarten students build digital portfolios and tweet their learning every day.  Our community tweets, blogs, and collaborates online using Padlets, Google Docs, Edmodo, Evernote… And this is just the tip of the iceberg.
 
We as a professional learning community.  Our eCoaches who work tirelessly to provide us with the tools to enhance our teaching practices.  Teachers who are willing to take risks and challenge themselves to try new things as their classrooms are repeatedly ‘disrupted’, principals and directors who learn with us and support us while we explore a new age in education.  Students and parents who have embraced the changes and put their trust in us to lead this transformation.
 
And I as an educator.  Back in February 2012, as I wrote that email, I could’ve never imagined this.  Flipped classrooms, full transparency, enhanced learning for a generation of digital natives.   A transformation, a paradigm shift, in only 18 months!  Wow.
 
How far we have come indeed.
 

A Rose by Any Other Name…

According to Juliet, had Romeo had any other name, he “would smell as sweet”, meaning, no matter what Romeo called himself, she would still love him… aaawww.  But Shakespeare didn’t live in the digital age, no sir.  The dude wrote stories that have transcended time using a quill on parchment, beautifully I might add.   His work didn’t need aesthetics to hook his audience, he was that good.

But to many modern day Shakespeares out there, a blog, for instance, is a new age version of a parchment, and a coffee stained keyboard, a quill.  And in contrast to Shakespeare, bloggers are able to get their work out to the whole world with a simple click on a ‘Publish’ button.  The ‘blogosphere’ is a powerful community composed of millions of members, including yours truly.   So how can we make readers stick around to read our work when there’s so much out there?  In the blogging world, it’s all about appearances.

Love At First Sight

Juliet fell in love with Romeo the first time she saw him, instantly, without hesitation, and unconditionally.  In a way, this is what all bloggers should strive for:  Their blog should be to the audience, what Romeo was to Juliet.  From the moment a reader clicks on a blog link, they must like what they see, nay, LOVE what they see.  It is the only way they’ll stick around.  Take mine for instance:

iPostCover

I have to be honest, when I picked this layout, I wasn’t thinking of my audience.  My main focus was to pick a layout that would be easy for me to manage and still be easy on the eyes. In a sea of WordPress themes (and believe me, I must’ve previewed all of them), I went with a simple one.  Lists. Columns. Done.  It wasn’t until I read Lazy Eyes by Michael Agger that I realized how effective this look is, and that in fact, I am the audience.  My blog cover page doesn’t say much of anything really, it’s mostly hypertext that invites the audience to click to find out more.  I love the layout (and this a compliment of course to the theme designer) of my blog because I understand it and shows who I am as a blogger.

Romeo Had Game

Romeo wasn’t just a pretty face, the boy had skills.  So must blogs.  Once the audience gets past the first impression which invited them to come in, they must have a reason to stay.   I’ve never been a strong writer (really, I’m not sure if in the previous sentence I’m meant to write ‘past’ or ‘passed’ 🙁 ), but my blog allows me to express my ideas the way I see them.  I’m certainly no Shakespeare, so I have to work extra hard at my blog to keep readers coming back.

I’ve put many of Mr. Agger’s and other strategies to work on this post:

  • I’ve added subtitles to allow for the reader (you) to scan through the post and see if it’s something worth your time.
  • I’ve enhanced important words by using the bold and italic features.
  • Hypertext!
  • A bulleted list to summarize said strategies.

Hopefully they worked…?  If you’re still here, phew!

A Blog by Any Other Theme…

…might not smell as sweet.  Not that blogs smell, but you get the point.  Bloggers should choose their layout wisely and consider the aesthetics of their blogs regardless of writing skills and even quality of content.  I tell my students all the time to produce work that they themselves would like to read, see, watch, taste, explore… Blogs are no different.  I plan to continue improving my posts and the overall look of my blog by following Mr. Agger and Jakob Nielsen‘s advice.  And from time to time, visit my work in secret (much like Romeo visited Juliet at her balcony) to reflect on what I can make better.  Without telling anyone, make changes here and there to give my blog more relevance and a longer lifespan.  Unlike Shakespeare’s work which doesn’t need any tweaking at all.

If you, reader, have any ideas or suggestions as to how I can make my blog more appealing and/or inviting, comment away!

A Candy Crush Summer

And we’re back.  International schools all over the world are either getting ready to gear up for a new school year or are up and running like well-oiled machines, SIS being the latter.  It feels great to be back 🙂  Students have grown a couple of inches, some have stayed the same.  We’ve had a few lost devices over the summer, some access passwords forgotten (not mine, thank goodness!), but nothing that Time Machine, iCloud backups and eCoaches can’t fix.  We’ve hit the ground running and it seems like we never left.

For all fellow COETAILers out there, we’ve had a summer to think about and anticipate our next course, and what this year will bring.  Some of us are looking forward to re-connect via Twitter and/or hoping to physically ‘meet’ each other at Learning 2.0 in Singapore.  However, some of us had a mental-health summer where we purposefully didn’t think much about work, or PD, or students, or required summer readings… Yes, for some of us, the most productive thing we did all summer was play Candy Crush.  And by ‘us’, I mean ‘me’.

Last year was the best (and busiest) of my career, and in turn, the most tiring.  I used the term ‘burned out’ to describe how I felt to my colleagues and friends.  Towards the end of the school year, it was evident on my face, my work performance, even in my most recent COETAIL posts.  I was done and I needed a break.  So I took it.  And it was the best thing I could’ve done.

I’m back a renewed educator.  I’m seeing things clearer and see the direction where I’m going… I’m ready to take the next steps in my career as an educator. As I write this post, I’m hoping COETAIL will be the outlet for this work, and successful students the evidence of a job well done.

The first step I’m taking is completing my course 2 final project. (True story.  I even asked for an extension, which I was given!, and didn’t come through with that either…)  And even though I (very likely) won’t get a grade for it, I still want to do it, because I consider it incredibly valuable.  I will also do it a bit differently in a way that I can make it relevant for my students.

My project consists on a T.H.I.N.K. campaign.  Thank you to my friend Liz Cho-Young and her collaborator on this work Dan Slaughter, for the inspiration.  I will hold an ASA (After School Activity) at my school for G4-5 students who will help me put together a student-friendly campaign to promote appropriate digital citizenship based on the idea of THINKing when learning through technology.  Together we will explore what this might look like for students their age with self-managed iPads, get their input on what they really think is the most challenging choices they’re faced as digital citizens, and what strategies we can promote for others to make good choices.

I made a choice this summer to channel all my energy into playing Candy Crush (I mean, have you played Level 70 of Candy Crush?!?  It’s quite the challenge! ;)).  I had the world at my fingertips, great books to read, blog posts to comment on, resources to enrich myself… And I chose not to do any of it.  I will share this experience with my students in my ASA and ask them what I could’ve done to manage my time better.  What can we all do to discern between the good and the bad, the productive and the unproductive, the ‘have tos’ and the ‘it’s ok tos’?  And when they’re feeling burned out from all these choices, what happens then?  I can’t wait to see what we come up with!

So here we go COETAIL, hitting the ground running.  Can’t wait for Course 3 to start, I’m ready.  And for all you Candy Crush fans out there, good luck in the Easter Bunny Hills!!  They’re killing me softly… 🙁

 

 

Why I Clash with Clash of Clans

“It has been an utter nightmare for me since he got that iPad…”

I’ll never forget these words during a parent meeting.   On so many levels, this parent was genuinely upset about her son having a self-managed iPad.  A part was because his device had seemingly taken over his whole life, both at school and at home.   Another part was due to the fact that this parent meeting was happening because her son had made some wrong choices regarding the use of his iPad.  But most importantly, it was because she didn’t understand how her son had made these bad choices in the first place.  And to be honest, neither did we.  How had an iPad game led her son to bully another boy in his class? Enter Clash of Clans.

Before I continue writing my thoughts on this (and that is all they are, my own personal thoughts), I would like to state that I have never played Clash of Clans.  When my students talk about it, it’s like they’re speaking another language.

The afore mentioned parent meeting was painful.  My student, who I will anonymously refer to as ‘Buddy’, had made the wrong choice of bullying a classmate because he hadn’t ‘played his part in defending his clan’.  From what I’ve read, Clash of Clans is a “…strategy game where, like many other strategy games out there, the purpose is to build one’s village, unlock different warriors, raid resources from other villages, create a clan and much, much more.” (Source https://clashofclans.wikia.com/wiki/Clash_of_Clans_Wiki).  So basically, it’s a strategy game which allows the players to collaborate with others to build a community which everyone is responsible of protecting.  Alright then.  So how can a collaborative game such as this cause reactions like this from its players? Shouldn’t it be the other way around? Shouldn’t it promote collaboration and team work? And wait, isn’t this the same as any other team-based game?  Not really, here’s why.

Let’s take a friendly game of soccer.  There are two teams.  Both teams have great players and some who are still learning the game.  Kids can be hard on themselves and each other in this scenario as well.  They have captains who pick and choose their players.  They can get physical with the members of their own team that are not playing ‘as well’ as others.  And sure, there is usually unsportsmanlike conduct amongst players which both teachers and parents are all too familiar with and usually deal with very well.  So what’s the difference?  Well, in this soccer scenario, kids have to be present in order to be a part of the game.  They have to show up and be there physically for their skills to be taken into consideration by others.  The same goes with tag, Pictionary, and other games where actually being there during the moment of play is crucial to the team’s performance.  But in Clash, players can be in separate locations to play, and in order to protect their ‘villages’, they need all need to be online at the same time.  If a player is not online, his absence can be the catalyst for a ‘raid’ or ‘attack’.  In contrast to a soccer game where kids need so many factors to play: a field, a ball, parents who pick them off and drop them off, a uniform, cleats, etc; Clash only needs the iPad and player.

So here’s what happened.  Buddy claimed that “Their (imaginary) village got (imaginarily) raided by some (imaginary) enemies and IT WAS ALL HIS (the bullied boy’s) FAULT for, well, not being online when the rest of the group were…!!!” The reason the boy was not able to be online at the time of play was irrelevant, and it didn’t stop Buddy and his other Clash playing buddies to come down on their classmate hard for this.  So much for a community who protects their own, in real life, they were ready to throw one of their village members to the wolves.

I know what you’re thinking.  Why is Buddy, a grade 5 student, playing a game that he probably shouldn’t even have on his iPad in the first place? Why hasn’t his device been taken away from him and the game deleted from his iPad?  Why do grade 5 students (11-12 yrs old) have self managed iPads anyway??

I’m not an expert on this subject, but as our school is the first to try self-managed devices with our elementary school students, this is how I would answer those questions:  Because with self-managed devices, there will be some doors open for our learners that we want them to experience, and that has its ups and downs.  Because taking the device away will not teach them to make better choices, but rather take the choice away.  Because this is the world of the natives and they are learning from a completely set of mistakes than we did.

Even though the title of this post is why I clash with this game, I have to emphasize that I don’t think this case of cyberbullying was the game’s fault.  Whether we allow it or not, some of our students will play these games and in turn, make choices based on what they learn from them, good and bad.  We need to have preventative measures in place to avoid this behavior from students.  This doesn’t mean that all teachers should download Clash of Clans and play it in order to understand it.  It also doesn’t mean that all schools should have an iron-clad AUP before the devices are given to students.  And to be honest, our school is still working on these preventative measures.  This is a whole new ball game.  And I ‘clash’ with the game simply because I wish I knew how to better prepare my students when making choices based on playing these games.

I also want that prevention come in the form of empowerment for parents and teachers.  The words Buddy’s mom said in that parent meeting made a huge impact in the way that I see self-managed devices.  I want that these measures give us the confidence to be able to support our kids without having to know everything.  When a child is doing something on their devices we don’t understand, that we don’t hold the device responsible if bad choices are made from this use, but rather build on trust between us, our kids, their use of the devices, and their fellow device users.  And when I think about it, it’s like creating a village in Clash of Clans, the model of a community who counts on each other for the improvement of the group.  In this mentality, Clash and I don’t clash at all.

So, who’s watching?

I’m not into conspiracies, although, every time something big happens in the world that I read on the news or hear about, I immediately think ‘I wonder which mastermind is behind it…’.  I blame Hollywood.  Remember the 1995 movie The Net with Sandra Bullock? No? Really?  Well here’s a quick excerpt of the movie plot from the movie’s Wikipedia page:

“When {Angela} Bennett [Bullock’s character] wakes up, she finds that all records of her life have been deleted: She was checked out of her hotel room, her car is no longer at the LAX parking lot, and her credit cards are invalid. Bennett’s home is empty and listed for sale and, because none of the neighbors ever saw her [most of her interactions with others are done through the web], they cannot confirm her identity. Bennett’s Social Security Number is now assigned to a “Ruth Marx”, who has an arrest record.  Another woman has taken her identity… 

You’re really missing out if you haven’t seen it.  But I digress.

I remember people saying this movie was a good prediction of how the internet would take over our lives in the not-so-distant future.  And here we are, 18 years later (EIGHTEEN!?!), and I’m writing a reflection about my thoughts on online privacy for a well-respected online course.  I have blog that holds all my thoughts.  I have a Facebook profile that holds my personal pictures, a Twitter account which connects me to people I’ve never met but have deep 140 character exchanges with, a packed Dropbox and a Google Drive with all my work documents that I share and collaborate on.  I have an online resume, an online banking system, a Paypal account… I virtually depend on ‘the net’ to hold my entire life, pun intended.

So what are my thoughts on online privacy?  Sigh.  I try not to think about it so much, because when I do, I realize that Angela Bennett was right:

“Just think about it. Our whole world is sitting there on a computer. It’s in the computer, everything: your DMV records, your, your social security, your credit cards, your medical records. It’s all right there. Everyone is stored in there. It’s like this little electronic shadow on each and everyone of us, just, just begging for someone to screw with, and you know what? They’ve done it to me, and you know what? They’re gonna do it to you.”

Although a bit overly dramatic on Ms. Bennett’s part, this has never been truer than now.  It’s so much greater than us.  As a person living in this digitally-run world, I wish I didn’t feel so small.  And as an educator, I feel the weight of the responsibility to teach my students the importance of keeping their details private… Even if sometimes I wonder how much actual privacy they can depend on.  Besides, who’d want to ‘hack’ into a G4 students’ school email? No, seriously, who’s watching?

User Rights

I love when I ‘get schooled’ by my students.  No, not like this (incredible) kid, I hope never to cause a reaction like that from a student; but rather when a simple interaction becomes a huge learning moment for me.

I’m a language support teacher who constantly depends on the resources out there to be able to communicate with my students who are still learning English (translators, Wikipedia pages in different languages, images, etc).  I’ve been reading a lot on Creative Commons and the importance of  copyright usage, and how students and teachers deal with plagiarism in schools all over the world.  But I have to admit, even though I know there is a line between using resources created by others to support learning, and claiming those resources as your own; this line becomes fuzzy to me while making something as simple as, let’s say, vocabulary flashcards.  And I’d never given it too much thought until this moment with one of my G5 students.  We were completing a set of A+Pro Flashcards for a science unit and I told him that images could help him remember key words better, and to just go online and find images to add to his flashcards (an awesome feature that this app offers, btw).  To my surprise, instead of taking the app shortcut to automatically add the images straight from the internet, he opened Google Images search, went to the settings gear and before performing his search, he made sure he selected the right ‘Usage Rights’ from a scroll down menu:

Without even realizing it, he made that line that I find fuzzy at times become so clear… I was speechless.  And really, there was nothing for me to say but to compliment him on his digital citizenship.  I also admitted I didn’t know of this simple yet hugely important search setting and thanked him for showing it to me.