How is my digital identity changing and evolving through the exploration of my major project? Through my personal apps, one of the biggest changes I’m finding in myself is the amount of time I’m spending accessing Social Media and the different levels of connection I’m feeling. Using a twitter account and specifically seeking out content that relates to digital learning has made it so that in my downtime, instead of scrolling through Facebook, I am more likely to be clicking on a related news story or article that someone in our class has shared. I’m also finding that I’m posting more to social media than I was before. For a long time I was in the habit of simply lurking online not really feeling like I had much to say. I’m trying to put myself out there more now in terms of Instagram photos, Snapchat, and Facebook but it’s still hard.
On the website Digital Citizenship, Mike Ribble discusses nine elements of digital citizenship: digital access, digital commerce, digital communication, digital literacy, digital etiquette, digital law, digital rights and responsibilities, digital health and wellness, and digital security. In terms of which of the nine elements my personal social media journey is teaching me, digital communication and digital literacy stand out as key. I’m really starting to shift my focus away from technology being a way to turn out towards it being a way to tune in. Every morning, our staff who arrives early all gather in the staff room to read the paper together and talk about what’s going on in the world. The other day, instead of reading the paper, I was on my phone and one of my colleagues made a comment about how I was “so technologically addicted” just like the kids. Instead of reading comics in the paper, I was reading our classroom twitter feed and learning more about digital learning and the different challenges we face as educators.
The article What Kind of Citizen? – Joel Westheimer talks about the three types of citizens education produces: personally responsible citizens, participatory citizens, and justice-orientated citizens. I feel that throughout my undergraduate degrees, the idea of limiting our online presence and the idea that everything we post will be used against us was constantly talked about. As a result, I’ve fallen into posting very little controversial content online. My graduate studies, particularly this class, is causing me to re-evaluate this. At this point, I am barely a personally responsible citizen I am more of a ghost. I’ve been working hard to push myself into becoming a participatory citizen with the hopes of moving into justice-orientated as my comfort level increases.
One of the apps I’ve been exploring with professionally is Google Hangouts. I created a class google hangout group as well as established links with my students’ google accounts. My hope for this is to combat times when we need to communicate and either they or I are not there. I’ve used it a few times already to reach out to students when I know they are going through a hard time and they aren’t at school. So far the results have been overwhelmingly positive. Creating a classroom hangout was one of the stepping stones I’ve used to begin speaking to my students about digital citizenship. I’ve found that even informal conversations have prompted good results as the idea of being a positive digital citizen is not one that students really want to argue with, they would like to aspire to even if they sometimes don’t know how.
In The Secret Social Media Life of Teenagers, Ana Homayoun talks about how teens can get “caught in a “all-about-the-likes” loop and I’ve definitely felt this play out in my classroom from time to time. Though Homayoun speaks to teens fear of getting caught, she also talks about how many secretive features are being placed on different social media accounts which makes it harder for parents and teachers to monitor. These sorts of ideas are one of the reasons it is so important to model and teach our students how to be good digital citizens and ultimately hold them accountable for their own actions.
The three areas of the nine elements that I’ve been addressing through the use of google hangouts are digital access, digital communication, and digital etiquette. In my classroom, every student has their own desktop computer so establishing a google hangout community was relatively simple and easy to ensure that everyone has equal access within the classroom. One of the reasons I love this idea is because it is a way of communicating that builds upon the google tools we have already been using in class so it integrates fairly well. Another thing I love is it begins to deal with digital access and digital communication. All of my students have some sort of handheld device (usually a phone) but they often don’t have minutes to call the school if they are absent or need a ride (our school offers pickups to students when we can as they live spread out all across the city). This way they can communicate with me anytime they have access to wireless internet. And as teenagers, are they ever good at scoping out places with free Wi-Fi.
Lastly, the other app I’m exploring professionally is the use of Google Classroom with my classmate (and sister) Jocelyn Carr. I currently have a google site, having progressed in the past through a classroom wiki site. I feel like my google site is ok but in my desire to push for increased technological literacy I really wanted to learn about and explore this platform that it seems everyone is talking about and using in mainstream schools. Another appeal for me is something that we talked about in class about copyright and how modeling proper digital etiquette, even if we don’t expressly talk about it, models its importance for our student. On my current site, I pulled pictures and content from wherever, not really giving it much thought because it is a closed site. I’m regretting that choice now as I never really stopped to think about what not citing my materials shows my students when it comes time to do their own work. This is something I’m starting from fresh on the Google Classroom platform and slowly working to update on my Google Site as well.