Category Archives: identity

Questions and Reflections about Learning in the Digital Environment

Alec Couros and Katia Hildebrandt are facilitating a Digital Citizenship Massive Open Online Course(#DCMOOC). The community within this course is discussing the digital environment and the implications for educators and students. The week two presentation looked at learner participation in the digital environment and the implications for critical thinking and ethical behavior. We explored the questions around age restrictions and filtering for learner environments. The following questions followed the presentation for continued discussion.

How do we ensure that learners are critical, ethical, and knowledgeable creators, consumers, and participants of digitally mediated environments? How can we develop students’ abilities to become self-regulatory in the appropriate use of digital media, rather than relying on external filters and restrictions?

Learners need guided opportunities for purposeful use of digital environments. We teach critical and ethical activity through our modeling during instruction and by setting tasks which require thoughtful creation of artifacts and products. When we plan for these tasks, we need to establish the guidelines which support students’ understanding of copyright and privacy. Along the way, we can give feedback on their sources and their citation of their sources. Learners’ develop their abilities to self-regulate when they are given real opportunities to choose. In the digital context that means choosing their sources of information and critiquing them. In the early years, we can do these tasks together as a class and model the citizenship they will need to develop. As they grow, we can give opportunities to develop their skills by providing examples and non-examples of sources and materials as well as guidance for what to do when they ‘arrive’ at online places they know are not appropriate. I think the following analogy is appropriate: we teach children to swim by taking them to the pool. If we stayed in the bathtub, they would not learn what they needed in order to swim. Just as children need to be in the pool to learn to swim, we need to go into digital spaces to learn to participate in the digital environment.

How do we model modern approaches to copyright and creativity, where the rights of both creators and consumers are balanced and respected?

I believe learners and teachers need to know the limits and freedoms we have as citizens. Under Canadian copyright legislation, it is recognized that citizens can make mash-ups of material without breaking copyright. Mash-ups are digital artifacts made by mixing a number of sources (photo-shopping a photograph, mixing two music tracks, adding music to a series of video clips). These mash-ups must not interfere with the ability for the owner or creator of the original to make a profit from their creation or product. As a consumer, I also have a right to use portions of material for research, for private study, for review or criticism, and news reporting. I also have a right to use materials for education, for parody, and for satire. My uses must be fair to the owner or creator of the work. To use work fairly, I need to give credit for the work, not sell the work, and not interfere with the selling of the work.

Learners need to be aware of their rights and the rights of others when it comes to making and sharing work digitally. We need to teach them simple ways to give credit. With younger children we can call it a ‘thank you’ for the work of others which is supporting their work. We can model these things in our own presentations and artifacts which we produce for school. We can develop age appropriate ways to say ‘thank you’.
How do we help students develop positive digital identities? What activities/assignments/projects can we integrate into our teaching to help our learners build their digital footprints?

How do we help our students to become kind and caring citizens who act with integrity in all spaces, including digital ones?

As a parent, I help my children develop their digital identities by having them use their own name when they work online. We started with their email addresses and have slowly added tools and artifacts to their online spaces. They check with me before adding friends and talk about how what they ‘like’ sends a message about who they are and what is important to them. We have talked about how what appears private can be copied and shared in public. We have started to develop portfolios of videos and projects which will form the oldest section of their digital footprints.

At school, I work with young children. Not all their parents are ready to have their children identified online by name. I think we can help to mitigate this concern by using first name, last initial, and avatars for identifiers with younger children. I hope to counsel the students’ parents to consider how creating a ‘fake’ identity could harm their child’s ability to navigate the online world honestly and carefully. Our children need opportunities to develop their online presence with the support and advice of trusted adults. Teaching them to be themselves online is an important first step in developing a positive digital citizen.

What is the role of schools in terms of developing student activism? How might we encourage and support students to use online spaces and social media to contribute positively to our world?

I believe in being an active, engaged citizen of the world. I struggle with the term ‘student activism’. Why? I should love it. I believe in learners being active, engaged citizens of the world and I believe in being in online spaces using social media. Activism needs to be the outgrowth of student engagement. I think we need to be cautious about doing social action because it’s well-marketed. This is peer pressure activism, which I sometimes get a whiff of with the “Be the Change” T-shirts or mandatory Pink T-shirt day. I think we need to get our learners into the real world and making a contribution in the ways which “fire them up” and make the world a better place.

So how do we encourage it? We do things that matter. We teach about the real world, real people, in real places, with real struggles. We cry, we laugh, and we think carefully about what we are doing and when we have kids ask the question, “but what can we do?” We do something, anything, which we can think of together to help make a difference.


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Filed under classroom, copyright, identity, learning, social justice

11’s for Kelli

11 Random Facts about me:
1. I am an amateur musician – I love to sing, play piano and recorder. I love making music with my family – my dad and mom and kids.
2. I am a theatre groupie. Local theatre is one of my answers to living locally. My husband and I get date night and some local people get to work in an area they love. Win-win.
3. I run to eat.
4. I love reading. I am part of a book club which helps me read outside my usual fare of YA dystopian/fantasy.
5. I need things to make sense and constantly re-evaluate my life goals against my ideals.
6. I frequently do not meet my own expectations.
7. I can feel hopeless about the world.
8. I believe in peace and justice as the only way to make things right – socially, environmentally, personally…
9. I believe in the power of stories – historical, current, futurist – to make change and make the world a better place.
10. I like children. Mine are the best of course.
11. I want to have close relationships with a small circle of friends. I think that’s harder than it used to be.

11 bloggers to tag (not going to get 11, I’ve moved to Twitter mostly…)

1. Back at Kelli
2. Vicki is my go-to-girl
3. Joyce V
4. Alec Couros

That’s about it.

Questions for these bloggers:

1- What is one thing you do that you would not change for anyone?
2- How often do you check your email?
3- Where do you find inspiration?
4- What is your comfort food of choice?
5- What is your guilty pleasure?
6- How do you relieve stress/let off steam?
7- How many hours of sleep do you get a night?
8- Where is your happy place?
9- Rule follower or breaker?
10-If you could be one age again, what would it be?
11-How did you start blogging?

My answers:

1. I would not lie.
2. Too often.
3. Twitter and Pinterest for tech and books and education. Church and my church friends for life.
4. Chocolate – dark and European.
5. Chocolate – again.
6. I play piano and talk to friends and family. I read.
7. 8.5 – try for 9.
8. Follower but see Number 1.
9. The one I am. No regrets.
11. To figure out what it meant to be online and an educator. It was part of my Masters work, now I’m trying to see if it is still something I need but I don’t seem to completely quit.

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Filed under blogging, identity, meme, personal

Making Avatars

After reading Joyce’s post on avatars, I went to play at the make a Lego avatar site.

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I love online quizzes. I can’t quite decide why but I find them satisfying. I like to analyze how I’m doing and which box it will put me in. So here’s another quiz box for anyone who’s interested.

What’s your theological worldview?
You scored as a Emergent/Postmodern
You are Emergent/Postmodern in your theology. You feel alienated from older forms of church, you don’t think they connect to modern culture very well. No one knows the whole truth about God, and we have much to learn from each other, and so learning takes place in dialogue. Evangelism should take place in relationships rather than through crusades and altar-calls. People are interested in spirituality and want to ask questions, so the church should help them to do this.
Emergent/Postmodern 79%
Emergent/Postmodern –>
Modern Liberal –>
Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan –>
Classical Liberal –>
Roman Catholic –>
Reformed Evangelical –>
Neo orthodox –>
Charismatic/Pentecostal –>
Fundamentalist –>

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James gets all the fun!

My husband is a teacher and quite a fine one at that. He is energetic and funny and fair. He is well-liked by his students. Today he found out that there is a Facebook site discussing exclusively him. A student ‘leaked’ its existence to him today and we went over for a look. Crazy! There are 37 members, past and present students and a picture of him from the yearbook. We were debating whether he joins the group or simply keeps an eye on it. It got me thinking about the teacher , that Donna mentioned.

The students talked about sharing information from tests and getting help from each other. One chided another for correcting spelling in a wall posting. So the question remains, start a group for homework? I think it would be brilliant. The other question is, how many sites are there for discussion on teachers? It took a little digging to find this one. (James and Funk usually call up James Brown tribute sites.) Not all of the teacher discussion sites will be positive. Who polices? Do you police for yourself? How do you find out what is out there about you?  Is it slander when it is negative?  Worth keeping an eye on.

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Filed under education, free speech, identity, personal

8 Random Things

I find the whole meme concept quite interesting and I like to participate for it makes me feel part of things but I’m with Clarence at Remote Access, in that they resemble  a virus or at least a chain letter, which I would never dream of passing along so I’m not sure which I feel I should do,  pass on the good inclusion feeling, thanks Kelly, or stop things here.

1)  I’m recovering from blisters under my toenails, very painful.

2) I’m terrified about the coming school year because I spent this year at university and always feel like I am about to fail miserably when the new year starts.  P.S. Don’t tell anyone! 🙂

3) I’m reading for fun and my list of reading for improvement is getting longer.   Good to remember when encouraging children to read.

4) I am trying to find the balance between giving my kids too much and depriving them of the fun that things can bring.

5)  I love to paint and design pretty things but get little chance to do it.  I’m looking forward to teaching fine arts again this year so that I can make the sample projects for my class.

6) I have just discovered the joys and difficulties of Facebook.  Interesting form of communication.  I’m not sure I can see how to use it yet in a classroom and I have already experienced what slander looks like and I don’t like it.

7)  I haven’t missed blogging and reading my feeds over the summer holiday and I wonder about how I will fit this way of working into my school life and how supportive or not my work environment will be.  I think we have 12 computers in a lab 7 in the library and one in the classroom.  What in the world will blogging look like there?

8)  I am still on holiday and I dropped back in to play the game.  These are definitely random.

No tags, I’ll second Kelly‘s list and side with Clarence in not passing it on.

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Literature, Identity and Choice

Carl Leggo, a professor on faculty at UBC, is a writer and teacher educator.  He writes marvelous autobiographical poetry and speaks his poetry in presentation as if it were a song with cadences, inflection, dynamics and articulation as one might expect of an instrument.  After hearing Carl speak at a recent conference, I asked him to send me a copy of an article in progress on among other things, the Western Canon and how we chose literature to present in our classrooms.

Leggo is partial to the reader response approach, as delineated by Rosenblatt,  and the cultural criticism orientation, as put forward by MarnieO’Neill.  Reading is a dynamic interaction between reader and text.  Not only that but the reader interacts with the text within a particular context in the same way that a writer writes the text from a particular context.  It is this interaction of reader, text, author, text and contexts that provides not a single reading or correct interpretation of a text but multiple readings dependent on the contexts of reader and writer.

Leggo introduced me to the ideas of de Castell who posits that reader response approaches in the classroom can actually serve to silence the very persons whom we are intending to give a opportunity for voice.  De Castell is concerned that literary experiences are active, engaged and private.  For de Castell, literary experiences in the classroom ought to remain grounded in objective discourse and critical analysis to prevent this silencing.  The difficulty I have with de Castell is with ‘objective discourse’.  Whose criteria are used to create ‘objective discourse’.  It is as if de Castell assumes that the instructor and student can leave their ‘selves’ at the door and work independently of their identities.  I don’t believe that this sectionning of self is possible.  People work within contexts and use their identity/identities as filters for their experiences.  I can not leave my ‘self’ at the door and become an objective self.  This is simply choosing one identity over the others.  A scientific objective identity over an emotional subjective identity.  Yin over Yang.

A few years ago, I took a workshop which talked about introducing students to six different hats or perspectives.  Each had a colour and set of characteristics associated with it.  Each hat would allow the students to approach the material in a different way.  Each was valuable.  Perhaps these hats would be useful in looking at literature.  The objective hat would be just one of the possibilities allowing for textual interpretation.  There would be room for other hats.  Maybe even more than six.

Leggo recommends teachers opening up the canon and allowing students to choose materials to read – sometimes from selected titles, perhaps sometimes from their own libraries. Multiple texts, multiple readers and a conversation about those texts and readers and their world.  I am thinking through how this might look in my classroom next year.  I know I want to explore student choice, extended reading and writing times, broadening the response possibilities and opening the conversation.  Stay tuned.

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Filed under children's lit, curriculum, identity, learning, library, literacy