The Where and the What of Getting Published

Publication in the online journal Educational Leadership provides an excellent stepping stone to implementing the blended learning practices I have researched throughout my graduate program. The conversational tone requested in the guidelines for publication allows me creative freedom to discuss my research and my plans for creating digital citizens. The theme of “Citizens in the Making” inspired me to put together a submission that demonstrates the value of teaching digital citizenship through the use of blended learning. The intention of my submission will be to combine ideas regarding the use of digital resources and tools to research and create with ideas regarding digital citizenship. This will provide students the opportunity to explore content meaningful to their pursuit of positive citizenship as well as their pursuit to develop and hone their skills in navigating through a digital world that they aim to participate in. While the theme description advocates the description of how schools will assist students in becoming stronger citizens in the traditional sense of the word citizenship, research in the field of digital learning demands that students comprehend and practice positive digital citizenship. The concepts and practices surrounding digital citizenship parallel those of traditional citizenship; therefore, students would benefit from exposure to content  involving traditional citizenship in the form of digital texts. Once students read through these digital texts, they can display their learning through a variety of digital mediums. Students that engage in this learning process will achieve the learning objective of “acquire the knowledge, dispositions, and skills that are essential for responsible citizenship in areas such as history and government, scientific literacy, and communication” and use digital tools and resources to create meaningful content that promotes positive digital citizenship.  The following sources will provide support for my case to use digital citizenship to reinforce lessons aimed at transforming our students into engaged and informed citizens of the United States of America.

Learning and design with online real-time collaboration

This paper put together by Michael Stevenson and John G. Hedburg discusses how online communication can assist students in developing artifacts that display learning. The paper explains the necessity of understanding how students can collaborate within digital learning environments to effectively design curriculum to be used in an online learning platform.

Collaborative cloud: a new model for e-learning

This paper put together by Jian Liao, Minhong Wang, Weijia Ran, and Stephen J.H. Yang provides educators an option to use cloud computing for online collaboration and creation. This prototype system has the ability to provide students a more efficient method of writing, revising, and editing as well as a more efficient method of collaboration with their teachers and peers.

Closing the Communication Gap

This article put together by Kelly J. Charles and Virginia Dickens describes how Web 2.0 tools can enhance the planning and implementation of lessons. The article provides an introduction to Web 2.0 and how it can be used to co-teach and enhance collaboration between educators and students.

Building 21st Century Writers

This article put together by Jennifer Demski addresses the need for students to write using digital platforms. The article uses results from the Student Writing Achievement Through Technology Enhanced Collaboration (SWATTEC) grant to demonstrate how using digital tools to collaborate and write improves student achievement on writing test scores.

Teaching in a Digital Age

This book written by Tony Bates informs its readers on how the digital landscape has transformed how educators must teach. Chapters include how the digital world has reconstructed the classroom, how the digital world has effected pedagogy, and how the various mediums within the digital world can be used to effectively educate.

Students as Creators: How To Drive Your Students To Become More Than Just Consumers

This online article by Saga Briggs emphasizes the need for students to create within the digital world. Briggs stresses that students must use digital tools to synthesize the vast amount of information they encounter to develop their skills in analyzing and evaluating sources as well as their skills in creating content and using their sources for support.

In Spring City, PA., Hybrid Learning Sends Test Scores Soaring

This article by Kathy Boccella describes how an elementary school in Pennsylvania used hybrid learning to boost their math, reading, and science scores. Hybrid learning is defined as using digital learning alongside individualized learning and small group instruction.

Digital Citizenship Means Character Education for the Digital Age

This article written by Jason Ohler provides a case for providing students with information on how to practice positive digital citizenship. Ohler argues students in the digital age require the information on what digital citizenship means and the opportunity to practice positive digital citizenship.

When the news intrudes: Helping kids make sense of the media

This article written by Devorah Heitner provides reasons as to why students must understand how to analyze and evaluate source material. Heitner also provides a list of practices that ensure students are provided the proper opportunities to learn and practice positive digital citizenship.

Digital Citizenship in Schools

This book authored by Mike Ribble explains what digital citizenship is and what it means to all digital citizens. Ribble then discusses how the nine elements of digital citizenship affect learning in schools as a whole and in classrooms as individual places of learning.

How Learners Become Leaders

The Greek philosopher Heraclitus stated, “The only constant is change.” The evolution of the digital universe demanded that I allow change. With a release of an updated version of your device each year, new software must be learned with each update. This constant updating demands a growth mindset. Once the growth mindset takes effect, learning digital tools joins the list of never-ending things to do. As a new homeowner, I can say I never thought mowing the lawn and learning how to use my computer would fall under the same list. As an educator, the impending change due to technology finds realization in each year’s lesson plans. I observe veteran teachers roll out the same lesson plans year-after-year, and I cannot help but wonder how they are not bored to the point of insanity. My lessons, while only three years old, have taken on new characteristics and supplemental activities each year. Some of those supplemental activities will be described and linked to further on.
First, I must acknowledge where I believe I fall short within my digital learning network. I have accumulated numerous resources and uncountable texts, pictures, and videos to be used within my arsenal of educating tools. I have used formal education, social media, and the much discussed “sit and get,” as well as a myriad of other platforms, to put together the lessons I use day in and out as a high school teacher. However, I have not contributed the artifacts that I have created using all of these inspirations. With the culmination of my first graduate program in sight, I look past the stage and view myself working on insuring my work can be used by the masses that I so graciously borrowed from. The digital world provides me with unlimited opportunities to publish my material, so the responsibility falls on me to put in the ground work to accomplish my goals.
One of my major takeaways from this program is that you must model the behavior you wish to see. Whether you are teaching teachers how to effectively implement digital tools within the classroom or teaching students how to use digital tools to display their evidence of learning, those receiving instruction must view the skills being used before using those skills themselves. My weakness lies in my inexperience with a variety of digital tools. I am still learning what digital tools are out there and how to use them within instruction. I have ensured that my students are being provided the opportunity to develop digital content and practice positive digital citizenship skills by lining my curriculum with supplemental digital activities. After taking my students through a grammar lesson, they complete an assignment using NoRedInk. After copying a unit of vocabulary words, they complete a set of exercises posted on their class’ webpage. I use videos provided through my online textbook to supplement content; however, a reflection piece that can be typed or hand-written will be paired with the video to guarantee engagement. I have experimented with the The Gutenberg Project to provide my students with digital copies of text that we read inside the classroom. Most of the ways I use technology to support teaching in my classroom are channels for students to complete assignments from outside of the classroom. This safeguard method came out of my need to accommodate a number of students that miss large amounts of class time. My current experiment provides my students reading Romeo and Juliet the opportunity to create their own comic of the play using Storyboard Creator. My challenge with using all of these digital tools is keeping up with how content is created and submitted. I hope that my students view my eagerness to allow them creative freedom through digital outlets as motivation to begin developing their digital footprint.

 

For a digital tool to earn value and create educational impact, that digital tool must allow the user/s proper space and time to comprehend the tool, to practice using the tool, and to demonstrate the ability to synthesize understandings of the curriculum and personal connections via the tool. When users are rushed through a digital tool or are provided a digital tool with no instruction or practice, the quality of learning and the quality of the artifacts being created decreases. I am currently awaiting on approval of a mission to travel to Dominca and St. Thomas to assist in professional learning revolving around implementing iPads and interactive whiteboards within the classroom. My challenge will be to hone my skills in the use of these technologies to ensure that I am providing effective and meaningful instruction to those listening to my presentation. My plan is to take the Romeo and Juliet Unit Plan I have built to incorporate a number of digital tools and assemble it into a Blendspace Unit. I can then take those at the professional learning through the unit using an iPad and interactive whiteboard. While this may not be fully inclusive of what the capabilities of these tools can accomplish, I believe that a “stepping stones” approach must be taken when instructing and learning digital tools. Due to the vast amount of ways an iPad and interactive whiteboard can used, learners would find themselves experiencing cognitive overload by attempting to master those tools in a matter of days. As I continue to introduce myself to new tools and hone my skills within already known tools, I hope to model positive digital citizenship and to inspire those around me to develop their personal digital citizenship.

I first saw “Changing Education Paradigms” by RSA Animate in my undergraduate years, and I have shared it and viewed it more times than I can recall. This video provided me with a moment of clarity that has driven my desire to educate myself in the field of digital learning. When I combine the concepts brought to mind by Sir Kenneth Robinson and the concepts brought to mind by Steven Johnson in “Where Good Ideas Come From,” I find my inspiration that allows me to induce a state of flow when at work. Jago (2000) describes the state of flow as state of mind in which an individual loses sight of all distractions due to being entirely engaged within the current objective (p. 89). Understanding that the field of education will be transformed in such a way that the previous model will be unrecognizable to the present combined with the understanding that my personal ideas must be tended to and developed provides balance that fosters innovation and leadership. I have began my career in providing my country with a premium educational product; however, the goals I am achieving now are the beginning steps to what ideas will combine with others to assist the change in education paradigms.

References:

Jago, C. (2000). With Rigor for All. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann

The New Dual Citizenship

Before the digital age, dual citizenship connotated that you were a citizen of multiple countries in the global community. Dual citizenship has taken on new meaning for me and hopefully, for all digital citizens. I would be willing to bet cold, hard cash that the clear majority of schools mention educating and promoting positive citizenship in some amount of words within their mission statement. I am curious as to how many of those schools include digital citizenship within that mission statement. Throughout my education positive digital citizenship has been implied through the concepts brought on by traditional citizenship, so it seems somewhat backwards that my first formal “digital citizenship” course was not taken until the concluding moments of my graduate program after using digital tools and resources for more than a decade.  This class provided me the opportunity to hone my practices to ensure that I continue building a positive digital footprint that assists my life as a digital citizen and as a traditional citizen.

The amount of information that was necessary to cover, providing that this class was my first formal class in digital citizenship, handily became my greatest challenge. This challenge demanded that I adhere to a weekly schedule, a zero tolerance for procrastination, and a mind void of previously held views on the topics while analyzing text . Answering the challenge, I created a surplus of artifacts that can be recycled and revamped for future uses. The creation of these artifacts provided me the outlet necessary to mold preconceptions into new conceptions that emphasize digital leadership through practice. The presentation that I created as my culminating project will see more light than the other artifacts created because I intend on preparing similar presentations of the same content using different digital tools. I believe that these different presentations could then be brought together to form a singular, diversely created presentation that demonstrates the elements of digital citizenship while informing the audience of each element.

I have only the small beginnings of my digital footprint intact. This class placed a spotlight on the minuscule nature of my digital footprint through a variety of tests: unveiling the digital population’s size and diversity, performing a Google search on my name, and setting up the Google alert application for myself to name a few. This class also reminded me of the goals I had previously set for myself in the digital community: develop digital resources, organize digital resources into an online curriculum, and present at a TED conference. For the revival of my digital goals and for the push to create a number of digital artifacts, I recommend that digital natives of all ages take this course in a format proper to the maturity of the student. The sole activity that I had a problem with, the 2-5 minute video presentation within Week 2, was accepted in another medium. Therefore, I have no qualms with any of the assignments as they provided ample opportunity to practice the digital citizenship I will now promote throughout my organization.

While I created both aspects of my culminating project, On and Aware and A New Citizenship for a New World, specifically to be implemented within my school, I will patiently wait until I have completed my program and have an arsenal of artifacts at my disposal to bring it to my administration. It is my hope that this class has provided me the beginnings of what I will implement as effective professional learning within my innovation plan.