Consider your own attitudes to online citizenship. How do you manage your privacy and reputation? Why?
I’d never thought much about “citizenship” in the digital world, but there we are interacting over the internet on various social media, through blogs and sms on our phones. Each time we subscribe to a new tool we can choose to be ourselves, or take on a new persona, depending on the information required about us by the site we are joining. I personally am me, always. It’s just easier that way. I have one identity, and depending on the login requirements for creating a username there is little variation. The fact is I just can’t remember multiple user names and passwords. I am not a member of many sites as I don’t spend a great deal of time socially on the computer. I only joined Facebook last year when my daughter went overseas with work, so that I could communicate with her. Skype was the other tool I used but you need to have prearranged times to login. Don’t get me wrong, its great to be able to see the person you’re talking to, but I found it more complicated to get it functioning with viewable picture, sound was always OK. Facebook was more instant than email and we could adequately hold a conversation.
I had a discussion with my 17 year old niece about the different ways she stays communicates with her friends. She told me that her mobile phone is her life, and she couldn’t live without it. She uses it for almost everything she does. Where as, I use my phone primarily to phone someone or store a note, and the occasional internet search . My niece uses her phone to communicate with her friends, mostly by SMS, phone calls, take photos, Facebook, play games, GPS, listen to music, read email, identify songs using an app., store contact information and oh so many more things. She uses her phone as a learning tool in class by taking photos of class notes for homework, she accesses an online dictionary, has her school timetable in the calendar (with classroom, and due homework notes). She didn’t seem concerned about her privacy or giving away her details, she hadn’t given it very much thought. It there was a new tool she needed she just joined, providing whatever information was requested. Being connected seemed to be more important. She uses Facebook, as another major tool to keep in touch with her friends. Spending many hours with it chatting online, and always has her notification status switched on. She has everything “synced” to her phone so she is always up-to-date. She doesn’t have multiple personae. The idea of using the same tool for personal life and learning didn’t seem to appeal. She felt that their need to be a division in the tools used so that she didn’t get distracted. It would be too tempting to deal with personal life entries, when she should be doing school related work. It would also make the tool less desireable to use, as every time you opened it you would see school work that needed to be completed amongst your personal life entries, giving you a guilty conscience if work was incomplete.
If one of the powerful aspects of online platforms is the way we can connect with others, then is it okay to try and lock students into walled digital gardens?
I don’t understand what a “walled digital garden” is? So this makes it difficult to answer the question posed? If you consider a”walled digital garden” as being a locked down place in which students can “try out” various aspects of a tool without going public, then I think it depends on what you’re trying to teach them. If you’re trying to show them how to keep themselves safe in the digital world, I suppose this the way to start, as it is much too easy to “do the wrong thing” and expose it to world before you realize the implications of your post. Then once you feel they have the knowledge necessary to protect themselves, remove the walls and hope they practice what they have learnt. Though most of them will already have jumped in boots and all. You can only hope they will go back and re-visit the privacy and security settings on sites they already belong to.
How far does an educator’s responsibility stretch?
I think an educator’s responsibility goes as far as teaching students how to develop skills, and gain the knowledge and values that they will require to go on and attain the qualifications for the career they wish to pursue. It doesn’t guarantee them a position in their chosen career. Parent’s are also educators, so along with teachers this role also belongs to a child’s parents.
Do they need to teach students to be responsible and informed users of social tools?
If the social media is being used as part of their school learning then I think the answer is Yes, but if not the answer is No, and it would fall back to the parent to ensure their child was using the social media responsibly and safely. We all know that students use Facebook or an equivalent social media but that doesn’t make it a teachers responsibility to monitor the safe use of that media. If students were using the Schools Facebook page as part of a class project, then I think it is the teacher’s responsibility to ensure the students understand the responsible way in which to post so as not to get themselves into trouble. Students need to know that they can get themselves into trouble with the law if social media is used incorrectly. That they are not “anonymous” and that they can be tracked and identified. They need to think twice before posting comments, as often what they mean to say is misconstrued or taken out of context, landing them in all sorts of problems unintentionally.
Is this limited to the tools that we encourage students to use, or does it extend to the tools that students want to use?
I would think it is limited to the tools we encourage students to use, but encourage them to apply the same criteria to all tools that they use. If the same care is taken in the use of all tools they shouldn’t get into any trouble. It’s when they share text and images with friends that isn’t politically correct and then have a falling out with these friends that they can get into trouble. Something that was previously private is suddenly plastered all over the internet for the world to see as “payback”. Emphasise that it’s better not to say or share thoughts and images in the first instance if you’re not prepared for the world to see it/them.
Characteristics of an effective learner.
1. Inquisitive. By being inquisitive and not accepting that the first solution you find is necessarily the correct or only solution to the the question requiring an answer.
2. Record. The ability to record your findings in a location where they are accessible and organised (searchable) in such a way that they can be easily located when required. Pointless recording your findings if it is not able to be quickly and easily searchable. If recorded electronically, tags or subject headings need to be allocated.
3. Answer The desire to locate the answer to a problem – not only to provide a solution to the problem, but to provide a possible selection of options from which you can choose a single or combination of options in which to resolve your problem. Some that you may not of thought of on your own. By not being prepared to accept a single solution as the best or only option available to you.
4. Organised. By being organised you are able to locate the information you require fairly quickly. You tend to be more methodical in your approach to finding what your after, and therefore storing the found information in a way that it can be re-accessed when required in the future.
5. Collaborative. Being prepared to discuss your opinions with others, take on board their opinions and feedback and then possibly modify your initial opinion to something that is more open-minded. Often when forming an opinion we don’t initially take other people’s viewpoints into account and it is only after open discussion with others that you can form a more general opinion that is more considerate of varying viewpoints.
Technology is a major tool in my five characteristics of being an effective learner. Though I don’t practice all. There are so many sites to search to help us resolve any question we may wish to answer, giving much greater scope than just the print references you may have at your immediate disposal. Tools such as Evernote, Dropbox, Pocket and Diigo are just a few places of recording information for future use and reference. Making it far simpler to organise and locate at any time. Whilst social media tools make collaboration between friends, colleagues and the wider community very easy. With so many people “linked in” to these tools and very eager to provide an opinion when prompted. I however am not good at making my opinions public, and prefer to lurk anonymously in the background taking it all in. Technology will continue to make an impact on the way we teach and learn. As all things change with time there is no doubt that technology will have a larger impact on how teaching is delivered, lessons are made available, supplementary learning is provided and accessed. The advantage of being able to access learning materials electronically is that many courses can more easily be delivered online, and courses studied at home at the learners convenience without having to spend hours sitting in libraries so as to access research materials. It also allows you to “play” with different tools in order to gain a better understanding in the convenience of your home, without feeling pressured as might be the case in a workplace scenario.