From acceptable to empowering

Working with Mel and Nate, like I said before has been a great experience.

I know there are a lot of options for learning together online, and as a group we didn’t talk about this it reminded me of the power of asynchronous learning.

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One of the greatest things about googledrive in my opinion is the ability to learn together without having to always work together.  We commented on each others thoughts in our own time, and didn’t always have to have those conversations in real time.

This worked out really great for me since I was out of communication most weekends and we live in different places.  
We started off looking at the user policies at Mel’s school and my school, and then we thought about what they really meant, and who they were directed towards.  In both of our documents it seemed as though we were directing our conversations towards adults rather than students.  One of Mel’s primary concerns and I had to agree was that we need to focus on students and how we can communicate directly with them. 
We ended up revising the policy and Nate used Comic Life to make the rules look a little less formal and more focused on what students might want to see. 

We tried to use positive language and stay away from “don’t” type of material.  I feel great about the whole process, taking away negative language, asynchronous communication, working together, everything worked great for me.

Thanks Mel and Nate

I want to be passionately curious


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Working with Mel and Nathan over the past couple of weeks has been a great example of what COETAIL is all about.  We’re connecting, sharing ideas and experiences and as a result learning more about each other and ourselves.  I’ll be writing a blog post soon on the experiences and results of us changing an Acceptable Use Police to an Empowered Use Policy, and so far the experience has been great (thanks google drive). 

I’ve been reading lots of the other students’ blogs, and learning more about digital citizenship, and how people deal with concerns like cyberbullying, data loss, and just fear of the unknown.  Many of my fellow COETAILers show passion and curiosity where there might be fear.  So my wondering for this week is how do we create people who are passionately curious?
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As a teacher at an inquiry based school, how do we cultivate this in our students.  Beyond being passionately curious ourselves, how can we encourage students to take risks and jump into things safely? 

Online we have access to heaps of data, but how do we use this? Do we use it to reinforce our own beliefs, or learn something new? Do we use this to find people like us, or meet people who will challenge us to learn something new? 
One of my reasons for living abroad is to make myself an “other” to live and experience in a place that is not my own, and where I won’t always feel comfortable.  I do this so I can learn more about myself, but also reinforce the idea that we are always constantly learning, so I should never really feel uncomfortable. 
Again, I guess this goes back to Jeff‘s idea of always being comfortable being a beginner.  If I am happy always being in a learning state, I am always going to learn more.   But how do we help our students achieve this goal (or should we)? 
With Mel and Nathan, I’ve rekindled some passion for digital citizenship.  Working with new people has inspired me to think a little different about how we use devices and what our expectations should be.  Connecting with others is a wonderful opportunity, and the world wide web allows us to easily make these connections.  Sometimes I think we have to give up being scared and just be curious about the experience we are about to embark on, sometimes I think it’s healthy to be a little worried about the “what if” scenarios.  But ultimately I want to be able to replace the fear with curiosity.

Six (or nineteen) degrees of everything

“If you take me out of it, it’s kind of a beautiful concept”

During the reading of the Six Degrees of Separation article this was running through my head.  And I fully agree with Kevin Bacon, it’s a wonderful concept.  To think that we all were, and still are connected is pretty amazing. 
I use this blog, and twitter to connect myself and others, and happily, just recently, I read it makes me smarter
Just today I’ve used twitter to connect to my environmental education PLN #enviroed, I’ve connected Nicki and another art teacher to talk about using art and social media, I’ve also met two new educators from the U.S. and Argentina.  I use it to connect, share ideas, and wonder aloud.  
With my students, I try to get them to use it the same way.  Use the power of connections to find out more about what you’re interested in.  Connect to other bloggers in the school and outside of it who are passionate about the same things.  I have two classes in my school connecting with different schools to talk about How the World Works.  I want them to understand that making these connections with others can be a powerful learning experience. 
“Yet studies have found that the effort of communicating to someone else forces you to pay more attention and learn more.” 
Giving students the power to connect with people, and allowing them to write for an audience (that isn’t their teacher) means they have to pay more attention to what they are doing/writing/thinking.  It can help them clarify their thoughts, and have a more purposeful audience. 
I feel like I keep coming back to the original posts for this course, where the students said the teachers weren’t always the people they wanted feedback from.  When we open up our learning and share our thoughts (links, embedded videos, etc.) we get feedback and expand our learning opportunities. 
One of the things that is scary is the targeted ads, and google searches that are customized, this can narrow down our world.  But as long as we keep clicking, and expanding the web (instead of looking at a condensed web) I think we can continue to push our own thinking styles and skills. We can learn more from our community. 

Who’s responsible

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To be honest, I haven’t been really looking forward to this post.  I’ve already been really focused on Common Sense Media and I’m looking forward to being certified for my job this summer.  I thought it I would just write everyone.  Everyone is responsible.  But then I started thinking more about how we are taught about how to live in the “physical world” and for me, ideas expanded beyond just students.

During my Environmental Education Master’s program we discussed the idea of intergenerational learning how everyone can learn from each other.  Talking with Addy while driving for a meal I really started to think about the possibilities.  
My grandma used to get all kinds of games, viruses, etc. on her computer.  She wanted to be on facebook to keep in touch with her grandkids.  She needs to know about digital citizenship.  My boss is scared of twitter because of possible repercussions, so he needs to learn about digital citizenship.  The students in my class are still pushing boundaries in their digital world, they have less fear, but there could be more consequences. 
I think what we need is more of a campfire, or roundtable discussion.  Seriously have everyone involved.  Instead of just giving full lessons, make stories (videos, slideshows, etc.) and share experiences.  We talk so much about the importance of stories this would be a great chance for us to share all these ideas with each other. 
By incorporating everyone, and sharing stories, we can make these ideas more meaningful for everyone and less lesson like. Everyone would be involved, we would create shared stories and these stories would evolve as our relationship with the digital world is evolving. Just a thought.

Sharing is caring


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Copyrighting is an interesting idea, and one that is viewed differently across cultures and countries. Where I live now, I’m not sure any copyright laws are seen as worthy of following.  I see illegally downloaded video shops on the corners, people in the markets selling “designer” brand articles, really cheap software in not so original packaging.  While I don’t frequent these stores or purchase their products I see heaps of people who do.  They aren’t really concerned about the copyright, they want the information or the product.

Having access to so much information online has changed the way we interact with our different communities.  I think a lot of us feel entitled to certain things online, and at times, people over step copyright laws to have access to these things they feel they have a right to. 
As always, I’m trying to link the ideas between environmental education and educational technology. Permaculture principles seem to fit into so much of what we talk about.  

Fair Share


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When I think about Fair Share I think about three basic concepts, taking what we need, sharing what is useful for others and balancing our lives. 

People need things, and we should be able to take what we need.  There is so much information online that I have used.  Some of it as a university student who has access to academic papers (which aren’t always available for free), some if it was available by writers who have made their work free and some is from people who contribute to wikis for sharing in the co-creation of information. 
We should share things we don’t “need”.  My blog is creative commons licensed. I don’t need to make money off this blog, I want to share ideas, create conversations and build a community.  The tag line on the permaculture principles webpage is

We are provided with times of abundance which enables us to share with others 

I feel with access to the internet we literally have an over abundance of information and data.  I feel that in order to successful contribute to this data though we need to continue to use creative commons licenses.  Our students often search for images, and there is an incredible amount of almost everything.  When we use the google tool bar for licensed for reuse, or explore the flick creative commons page we find there is less than an abundance.  As a class we talk about this, we talk about how we need to continue to contribute to the creative commons so we can share our abundance. 
As “prosumers” we can’t forget the importance of sharing our work.  While being online is an incredibly opportunity to consume, we need to remember to produce as well.  Sharing our ideas, thoughts, and work is so important. 
We can contribute by producing images, or just by crediting who creates the work we share or use. 
Balancing our lives is another important aspect of Fair Share.  We can’t spend all our time online, we need to appreciate all the aspects of our lives and communities. 
We do need to change some of our copyright habits, creative commons has been great for me and my students.  We can use images to enhance our learning, we can site these sources properly and we have started producing creative commons work so we can all share and grow.  

Why Spy…

How worried am I about privacy? Depends on how I’m feeling I guess.  I go the total roundabout way to being concerned.  I know I don’t like people tracking me.  I have some add-ons (Collusion) for Chrome that I use to see what’s going on (and block known trackers).  Here’s what I saw yesterday when I started this post.

I know when I’m online I’m connected, I know advertisers use this to collect data, I am slightly worried about how else that information gets used, but my biggest concern is data collection for advertising, because regardless of my deliberate actions I am helping someone make money by just looking around online.  I am very happy that the internet is relatively accessible and cheap (especially here in Cambodia for me). So if advertising is supplementing that, right on, I just don’t want them to gather data about me, and sell it, especially since I purchase so many things online.

I read this book in January and found it incredibly interesting.

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The whole idea that nothing is private, is astounding (and mostly true).  But how much should we care about it.  The scariest thing for me in this book was the idea that you could only have one true identity online.  Right now I have three different profiles open on my chrome browser, work, personal, professional.  So I go to different websites based on who “I” am. That way, I’m using my data the way I want.

Which is what I tell my students… everything online can be made public (basically, unless you’re on the deep internet, or have crazy settings, then why be social). So, use that public aspect to highlight your best self. I don’t tell them about multiple profiles, but they know I have different profiles because they see my different browsers. I want them to know about privacy, not just facebook security settings and realize people want this data.  People want to see what people are buying and looking at.  Collusion (which I show them) connects all the little dots, so we can see where information is going, and as long as we’re happy with our data going places, then right on.  Just be aware, and make decisions based on what you know. 
I guess I think privacy (or openness) should work both ways, I should know who has access to my data if they are going to take my data.  

We need to talk about…


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I’m really happy we started talking about digital footprints, more specifically the benefits of a digital footprint. I remember talking about this problem in course 1. I still am confused why we aren’t giving students a larger say in our “Empowered Use Policy”.  As a school we are still using an Acceptable Use Policy, and like the article mentions the fear mongering behind what that means. Sadly with some of the points in our Acceptable Use Policy I feel like we are making students scared and are making them fearful of technology.

This past year I have been focusing on a “Positive Digital Footprint” or what I call (I stole this from somewhere but it was so long ago I forget) “Positive Media Presence”.  By empowering students and showing them the benefits of a Positive Media Presence” we encourage them to make good choices and dig deep into what the internet is for, and how we can use it to make our lives better.

So, when should we start talking about digital footprints? As soon as possible I would thing.  At our school students are creating showme presentations as young as Early Years, which means these students need to know that other people can see their work (even if it is not tied to their accounts).  Obviously we don’t need to do this in a negative way, but we can start creating excitement for what it means to be a contributor to a larger discussion.

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We shouldn’t stop talking about digital footprints either, or a positive media presence.  One of the reasons I signed up for COETAIL, was to continue improving my media presence, to make me more connected, not just to promote myself but to make those connections that are so necessary for success (not only mine but collaborated).

I completed the facebook analytics and looked at my media presence through the calculators provided, but didn’t see anything out of the ordinary. I just know I want to continue to improve and make connections with like minded people who want to enable students to have a larger voice and continue to create in our world.