A Bill of Rights and Principles for Learning in the Digital Age   EdSurge News
Mike Gwaltney and I presented this afternoon at OESIS a session on robust and responsible digital citizenship; see my previous post for those slides.

At the center of that session we shared with the session participants the recently published EdSurge “Bill of Rights and Principles for Learning in the Digital Age,” and then asked them to use it is a model and inspiration for discussing and developing in small groups their own set of rights and responsibilities for learning, participating, and contributing in the digital age, aka a digital citizenship bill of rights.

Here is the link to the open google document for those who wish to join in the conversation and add their own additional suggestions: it is (should be) an open for editing document.

Below is the what the group came up with in our short time together.  I also welcome readers to use the comment box as another way to add their own suggestions or comment on this set– (which is not meant to be my own work, nor to be inclusive/exhaustive).

Our followup conversation was about the potential for bringing this back to your school community– Mike asked if it were Polyannish to think that this might be a real option.  But the conversation in the room was rich with the optimism that this is an exercise feasible in our schools and in our classrooms, democratizing the AUP.  Several said they are already in the midst of reinventing the AUP into a RUP– Responsible Use Policy– and a “Digital Citizenship Agreement.”

Several seemed to think it would be exciting to take this approach and make it a democratizing experience in our schools as a vehicle for all members of an educational community to examining, reflecting upon, and developing a more thoughtful, intentional, and meta-cognitive appreciation for the rights, responsibilities, and opportunities of digital citizenship.

Rights

  • Freedom of Expression
  • Participation
  • Guidance and Mentorship
  • The right to access and not be filtered.
  • Privacy and boundaries
  • Right to your own creations with attribution.
  • To safely experiment with ideas and expression and points of view.
  • To Be treated with respect and common decency
  • To participate in communities to the degree to which one is comfortable.
  • To equal access.
  • To unfiltered civil discourse and avoid the echo chamber tendency.
  • To unplugged time.
  • To contribute to and build upon the creative commons.
  • To Access.
  • To be Creative
  • To express thoughtfully
  • To express oneself without censorship
  • To Transparency
  • To dialog in a safe environment—without there being a right answer.
  • To an environment in which things would not be said that we couldn’t /wouldn’t say face to face.
  • To engage honestly with peers and that others will reciprocate understanding.
  • To change your mind without being ridiculous.
  • Ownership
  • Expression
  • T0 Control one’s identity and presence.
  • To Community.
  • T0 Curiosity

Responsibilities

  • Honesty
  • Transparency
  • Cautiousness
  • Respect for other opinions
  • Taking responsibility and being held accountable.
  • Treating others online as you would in person.
  • Policy yourself and your colleagues
  • Understands the responsibility that they are part of a community not a lone wolf.
  • Mindfulness
  • Self-Monitoring
  • To self-regulate connections and connected-ness.
  • Control one’s identity and presence.

Mike Gwaltney and I enjoyed greatly facilitating this conversation on digital citizenship, rights, principles and responsibilities.     We ended up just focusing on the digital bill of rights, which will be posted here soon, but we wanted to make available the rest of these slides for those who might be interested.

From the book:
“None of these technologies are isolated, or isolating, systems.   People are not hooked on gadgets– they are hooked on each other
.

The new media is the new neighborhood. 

This is the era of free agents and the spirit of personal agency. But it is not the World According to Me– it not a world autonomous and increasingly isolated individualists.  Rather, it is the World According to the Connected Me. 

The more people use the internet, the more friends they have, the more they see their friends, and the more socially diverse their networks.  

People’s lives offline and online are now integrated– it no longer makes sense to make a distinction.”

This new book, Networked: The New Social Operating System by Lee Rainie (of the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project) and Barry Wellman (of the University of Toronto’s NetLab),  to which I was directed by Howard Rheingold’s terrific Net Smart, is a refreshingly no-holds-barred,  full-throated advocacy for the power of the network to improve lives, learning, and society.

The book, sadly, is not a complete success;  at times its narrative flattens into research-report data drudgery, and sometimes its voice  speaks about contemporary digital lives to its readers as if we lived on Mars or in the 19th century:  much of what is explained requires little explanation.   And the two “interludes”- intended as richly described “days in the life” of a networked, wired young person– simply fail, I believe, to illuminate, inform or influence minds (more about this at bottom).

But, if you are caught up in the current intellectual debate about the value of online networking– if you are looking for helpful argumentation versus the Turkles and Carrs– this is a valuable book, collecting and sharing research based evidence and an idealistic vision for where we are headed as a society of increasingly networked individuals.  And if you are looking for guidance on how to be a more effective online citizen, or netizen, this book offers good guidance.

The title is Networked, but the argument is something a bit different: many of us are living now not in a networked society but lives of “networked individualism.”  Because it is as individuals we are networked– at the very same time that we are more connected, we are less group-defined, less tied to tight networks such as churches and small town communities.

This new world of networked individualism is oriented around looser, more fragmented networks that provide succor.

Small densely knit groups like families, villages, and small organizations have receded in recent generations.  A different social order has emerged around social networks that are more diverse and less overlapping than those previous groups.

The networked operating system offers new ways to solve problems and meet needs. It offers more freedom to individuals than people experienced in the past because now they have more room to manuevre and more capacity to act on their own. (more…)

“There’s a seventh C too, you know” my neighboring seat-mate, the excellent educator Larry Kahn,  leaned over to whisper to me.   “Really,” I said, “what?”  “Connectivism.”

I wasn’t sure whether I was painfully behind the times, not already knowing about this seventh C, or alternatively that I’d been let into a secret club, the club of connectivism, but I was hooked.

Pat Bassett, the NAIS President, was presenting, and he shared with us his vision of the 6 C’s, be they 21st century skills or the essential capacities for success today: Critical Thinking, Communication, Collaboration, Creativity (the big 4 emphasized by P-21, edleader21, and Ken Kay), Character and Cosmopolitanism (Cross-Cultural Communication and Collaboration).

The elusive 7th C, though, I’m increasingly becoming convinced, is key: essential, exciting, empowering, elevating.   It captures something about learning today and tomorrow, and the way I understand it, it taps into, draws upon, and expresses (with its helpful first letter C), the power of networks and all that they can do to advance each of us individually and as groups.

This 7th C is just as important, I’m coming to believe, for ourselves to learn and develop and for us to faciliate our student learning, as any of other 6 C’s, even if, conceptually, it is still relatively more elusive than the first six.

Connectivism is defined on Wikipedia this way:

Connectivism was introduced as a theory of learning based on the premise that knowledge exists in the world rather than in the head of an individual. Connectivism proposes a perspective similar to the Activity theory of Vygotsky as it regards knowledge to exist within systems which are accessed through people participating in activities. (more…)

Choosing what I believe is the Book of the Year is always a fun task —what new book each year most informs, illuminates, and influences me?     2008 the nod went to Tony Wagner’s Global Achievement Gap (Godin’s Tribes the close runner-up), 2009 Perkins’ Making Learning Whole,  and 2010 was the year of Steven Johnson’s Where Good Ideas Come From (with Shirky’s Cognitive Surplus close behind.)  In 2011 John Seely Brown’s New Culture of Learning took my prize.  (Christensen’s Innovators DNA and McGonigal’s Reality is Broken were also contenders.)

2012 is only half over, and it isn’t impossible that my current nominee will be toppled, but I don’t think it likely.   Howard Rheingold’s Net Smart: How to Thrive Online is terrific: ambitious in scope but humble in tone; enthusiastic about opportunities but tempered by the recognition of the risks and downsides;  sweeping in its broad-brushed depiction of our new era of empowerment and participation while specific in its suggestions of precise techniques and initiatives we can take to best leverage our staggeringly new connectivity.

It should be said that this valuable book is a bit more work than most of the other titles mentioned above.   Johnson’s book was popular in airports, published by mainstream presses and written in a very general non-fiction manner, intended for wider audiences and reasonably easily read on a cross-country flight.   Brown’s book is breezy and accessible, with large font and charming anecdotes, easily able to be read over a 90 minute flight.   Rheingold, by contrast, is published by MIT press, with smaller font size and a greater seriousness— it isn’t an academic monograph, but will take more concentrated and extended attention than the others.

As I noted already in my previous post, Rheingold deserves great credit for his carefully nuanced balance of enthusiasm and sobriety about digital engagement and connected-ness, for which I am so appreciative.    Digital media is (or are, if you prefer) a great gift to us and to our abilities to form community, to collaborate and create, and to gather information and to contribute information, to participate and contribute to the wider world in ways we never had before.

Used mindfully, how can digital media help us grow smarter?  My years of study and experience have led me to conclude that humans are humans because we invent thinking and communicating tools that enable us to do bigger, more powerful things together. (more…)

In the project to educate our students to be digitally savvy and empower them to use the resources of the web to best pursue their own passions in learning as well as to research, evaluate, and use information in their coursework, we could stand to be more intentional in helping them shape their online environment than we have been thus far.

Truth be told, I could stand to be more savvy in my own organizing of online learning and networking: I’ve been slow to use tools and develop skills for managing online resource, such as the use of vehicles like Symbaloo, Evernote, or Diigo, and I want to take inspiration from the 7th grade student in the video above to move forward in this way and learn and practive better these skills and with these tools.

In a valuable, but not web-posted (as far as I can see), article in the recent Independent School magazine, Wendy Drexler, a former independent school educator who is now directing online learning at Brown University, offers advice on facilitating students in shaping their personal learning environments.

A PLE is the method students use to organize their self-directed online learning, including the tools they employ to gather information, conduct research, and present their findings.    As the name implies, PLEs give learners a high degree of control over their work by allowing them to customize the learning experience and connect to others, including experts in the field. (more…)

I greatly admire author Cathy Davidson, and I very much wanted to love this book, but sadly I don’t.

Now You See It comes from an exciting intellect, a scholar and an academic, a sparkling enthusiast and vigorous advocate for the “new learning” modes that my blog here promotes and celebrates.   Davidson’s focus is the university, and as a Vice Provost at Duke she led that university forward in meaningful and important ways; now at HASTAC she is clearly one of the nation’s most important educational thinkers and innovators in her work seeking to transform learning to modes that are contemporary, relevant, engaging, and preparatory for students.

So why I am so disappointed in the book?  As I’ve reflected about it, I think my main sadness is that in her advocacy for students being online and networked, and in her defense against what we all can recognize has been at times a loud and emphatic backlash against the problems of multi-tasking and digital distraction, she seems to work so hard to defend her turf that she allows for no compromise, no middle path, no synthesis, and the extremism of her position and/or rhetoric undermine her very argument and what are our shared goals.

There are terrific elements in the book.   She relates exciting educational innovations that she helped to pioneer at Duke; I am very inspired by the way she implemented the iPod experiment with undergrads at Duke, a “calculated exercise in disruption, distraction, and difference,” and the great advances in creativity, collaboration, and communication that unfolded as a result. (more…)

Some may be surprised to learn that I have a fondness for and mixed appreciation of Waldorf education, and that I am a Waldorf parent.

I appreciate much about the Waldorf approach, including its attention to developmentally appropriate learning, its emphasis on storytelling and mythology, its peaceful, calming, and focusing rituals, its embrace truly and deeply of whole child education, its naturalism, its “handwork” instruction and emphasis on craftsmanship and “making stuff,” and, in part, though I am conflicted about this, its affirmation of and mixed contributions to the cultivation of the imagination and creativity.   The students write and create their own books throughout the grades, which I think is terrific, for example.

Its philosophy about the exclusion of technology in the lower grades I can accept, up to a point; I think there are perfectly good and logical reasons to reduce or minimize technology in the early years of learning, though I draw the line in a different place than does Waldorf (a difference of degree) and I don’t draw it quite so absolutely in my own educational vision.

The concentration upon handwriting which seems to me to take up an awful lot of classroom time is a bit misplaced in the 21st century, but this is hardly a central issue when considering broadly Waldorf educational practice.   I’m given much greater pause by what is to my observation an inordinate amount of K-12 class-time used having all students doing exactly the same thing in unison.  It rubs me the wrong way, watching entire classes using an hour to draw exactly the same picture  or write exactly the same words or recite exactly the same math facts following the teacher’s modelling and always commanding direction.   I value diversity of educational philosophy across the breadth of our planet’s many schools, and I certainly respect Waldorf education’s right to use this approach, but this particular widespread practice is not to my preference.

So it is with particular interest that I read today’s New York Times front page article on the Waldorf school in Silicon Valley: A Silicon Valley School that Doesn’t Compute. 

Let me make my position clear: this is not journalism that belongs on the front page of the Sunday New York Times.    I think it is a very disappointing bit of snarky journalism that informs readers, a little bit, about Waldorf practices, condescendingly, but has as its primary purpose a not-so covert agenda to advance the paper’s ongoing attack on the use of computers in learning in its problematic series, Grading the Digital School.   The Waldorf school in this piece then, and Waldorf education in general, is only a pawn for the reporter Matt Richtel’s antagonistic crusade, and I want to caution Waldorf supporters from happily accepting their work being exploited this way.

What do we learn in this article that is being showcased on the single largest journalistic stage in any seven day cycle, the front page of the Sunday New York Times?   That some digital company executives  send their children to an expensive private school in their region, which they are among the few in the region to be able to afford, which doesn’t use technology for teaching young children.   (what percentage of the digital company executives? The article doesn’t say, but surely it is very small)

This is an anecdotal and almost entirely meaningless report: after all, every industry has among its many employees a wide diversity of educational philosophy.

(more…)

In the previous three posts, I shared the three digital citizenship workshops we presented our students in grades seven through twelve last week.  We decided it made more sense to separate our the sixth graders, many of whom are still ten, and presented them their own modified version, designed by Middle School Head Heather Faircloth, Librarian and Director of Information Literacy Laura Lee Calverley, and School Counselor Kim Peace-Steimer.

DAY 1: What is Digital Citizenship?

1)  On Board – What do we use technology for? How does it help? How does this hurt? (5 minutes)

2)  What is “Digital Citizenship?” (8 minutes): Digital citizenship can be defined as the norms of behavior with regard to technology use.

* Brainstorm words that could be associated with Digital Citizenship

*  Have students help come up with a definition. Break into groups and work on for 3 minutes.

3)   REP = Reputation (more…)

In the previous post, I shared our three day program we are presenting this week to our students in Digital Citizenship.   This post shares our Managing Digital Distraction session, which I developed with the close collaboration of our Tech Director, Andrei Henriksen, and the advice of a group of students we convened.

Our goals for this session have included:

  • providing our students more information about the problems and issues of digital distraction and problematic “multi-tasking;”
  • developing in our students more self-awareness and metacognition about their own issues of digital distraction;
  • asking them to get closer to the emotional experience of disrespect digital distraction causes;
  • and providing tools and techniques for better management of digital distraction.

Our session, which is fully laid out in the slides, opened with my explanation about the challenges all of us, adults and kids, are facing in this day and age of digital tools and distractions.   I also acknowledged the issues  around multi-tasking are complex and hotly debated in many circles, but that we believe students should work hard to be more informed about the costs of multi-tasking and tools/techniques to alleviate those costs and be effective learners.

We began with a five minute session intended to help students experience the feeling of the effect of digital distraction.  Working with a partner, we asked them to take turns trying to talk to someone and get their support about an upsetting situation (“I’m so mad at my parents; they don’t understand me”) while their partner focuses attention exclusively on a digital device, texting, for instance.   (more…)

This session is one of three (see previous post) sessions delivered this week to all our students as part of our Digital Citizenship bootcamp.

This session was developed and presented by Dean of Students Fred Roberts and English Teacher (and St. Gregory graduate of the class of 2006) Corinne Bancroft;  Jeremy Sharpe, St. Gregory class of 2006, also contributed to its development.

Our session began by showing a Good Morning America video regarding death threats to Rebecca Black.  The reason for this is to show the extent to which social media can go viral, even out of control, and in such a negative way.  This also leads into a discussion of how each person who responded to the It’s Friday video create and leave a digital footprint.

What is the relationship between social media and one’s digital footprint?

On the Internet a digital footprint is used to describe the trail, traces or “footprints” that people leave online. This is information transmitted online, such as a forum registration, e-mails and attachments, uploading videos or digital images and any other form of transmission of information — all of which leaves traces of personal information about yourself available to others online.

Much of our digital footprint is left through the use of social media.  This is where many of us will spend a lot of our ‘digital time’ and may not be as aware of the ramifications of what we are engaged in.  In a more relaxed atmosphere, such as chatting via Facebook, users are more likely to say something they may regret later. The message with this is that regardless of turning in an English assignment of chatting on Facebook, users must be aware of what they are sharing.

Discussing students’ definition of social media. (more…)

This week we are staging at St. Gregory a three day Digital Citizenship bootcamp, (DCbc), for all our students.

[Interested?  Read this post and the following three posts which you can find clicking on the digital citizenship "tag" on the right.]

This project was launched at our end of the year faculty meetings last May, during which we reflected very thoroughly upon our first year of being a 1:1 laptop school.   As at so many other schools, our biggest concern was about the problem of digital distraction: students sometimes play games or check social media when they ought to be doing school work.

As the conversation proceeded, others said that they were just as concerned about the ways students were communicating on social media, and the problem of cyberbullying.   Someone pointed out that we hadn’t really taken a distinct and intentional effort to educate our students about our expectations and the issues involved in these three areas, and it was then that our digital citizenship bootcamp concept was born.

Some have confused this with a “digital skills” bootcamp– that we’d be teaching,  for instance, the use of Google apps.  Rather, this is about citizenship, not skills: it is  exclusively about how we all can be better digital citizens, using digital tools more responsibly and respectfully and in ways which strengthen our community.

Each day this week, our students are rotating through, as paired grades (7&8, 9&10, 11&12) each of our three sessions:

  1. Managing Digital Distractions,
  2. Cyberbullying and What You Can Do About it,
  3. and Social Media Responsibility and your Digital Footprint.  

Our sixth graders have had their own specially designed, developmentally appropriate sessions on these topics.

It is my intent to share, in a series of posts, each of these sessions.   Below (or after the “more” button)  is the program, including the powerpoint slides and the two videos, for our Cyberbullying presentation, (more…)

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,799 other followers