EPS Media Specialists have chosen to highlight digital citizenship as the focus of their PLC. This means that not only do students need to learn a concept, that understanding needs to be measurable and tangible. My 20% digital citizenship project relates to the two ISTE student standards chosen as the primary focus during these meetings, and looks at one way these standards could be measured: through creation. The two ISTE standards chosen as the primary focal points of the Media Specialist’s PLC group are:
- research and information fluency, and
- digital citizenship
To think about how this can be measured, I think it is important to first break the learning down into two groups: elementary, and secondary. At the elementary level, students are more apt to engage with concepts like “rings of responsibility,” “cyberbullying,” and, “Oops! I broadcast it on the Internet!” because these ideas frame the concept of digital citizenship under a more basic umbrella of safety and responsibility. From this standpoint, it makes sense to have students draw conclusions from researching sites like Common Sense Media’s Digital Passport in order to highlight what they have learned. Then, they should make something to showcase what they have learned. Possibilities for creation include, but are most certainly not limited to:
- having each student create a page for an eBook to be published online.
- asking students to create an Animodo explaining what they’ve learned about digital citizenship, or
- an ABCya animation for older students.
- create a song that showcases the lessons learned about digital citizenship.
In a blog post from 2012, Dan Haesler makes an interesting point: what if we taught driving like we teach social media? By focusing on what not to do, students are frequently missing out on what they should be doing on the information superhighway.
What about the secondary students who have heard the term cyberbullying repeated each and every year? If online tales of woe can catch attention like a social media car accident and spread like wildfire, why can’t positive stories mirror this behavior? How about students develop a positive digital footprint through creation, not abstention? In Edina, students are already asked to work on both a Passion Project and an Apathy Project in which they delve deeply into a subject of their own interest; they work to enlighten others through research and presentations. What if this type of project spread outside of the classroom? Outside of the immediate Edina community? Outside of the country and into cyberspace?
Online tools allow for this type of transformation to happen earlier than ever before. For example, Google these kids and see what pops up:
- Fionn Hamill
- Martha Payne
What about students like Josie who had over 6,500 hits on their blog as an elementary school student? Or Jaden who writes about his favorite athletes and receives positive feedback from around the web? If it is possible for nine year old Martha Payne to lead a campaign that raised £131,666.79 as of February 2014, is it possible for our students to raise awareness for their own passions while creating positive digital footprints for their future based on creation instead of abstention?
As Tom Rademacher puts it in his TEDx talk: “we can use technology in our rooms to access humanity instead of escape it.” If Media Specialists are to verify students understand digital citizenship concepts and demonstrate practices pertaining to information literacy and research, then asking students to reinforce the concepts they learned in elementary grades through creation-based research projects creates not only a tangible artifact that confirms student understanding, but a lasting note on our student’s digital footprint is left behind as well.
As for the open-ended nature of the assignment: assignments that are more definite in nature are easier in many ways, but, this type of assignment is more helpful. The infinite information at our fingertips cannot be used as a shortcut here and directly relates to the type of work discussed above in this very blog post.