I thought I was doing a pretty good job at my school. I was able to advocate for my teachers and students and help get more technology at the school. I was able to support teachers who wanted the support (and a few who didn’t) as well as teach all the students in kindergarten, Grade 1 and Grade 2 but after this course of COETAIL, I feel like I still haven’t done enough! In regards to a philosophy and actual practice, I feel like we’re pretty far behind. I almost want to just stop and start all over from the beginning! The following is our expectations and norms regarding technology use at school that encourages students to respect myself, protect myself, respect others, protect others, respect intellectual property, and to protect intellectual property.
We share this in our parent and faculty handbook but looking it over, I can see that it is mainly geared towards the older students at our school. I know our teachers are not aware of these technology norms so how do we expect them to enforce or encourage our students to do the same? We currently don’t have an Acceptable Use Policy for the Lower School, a digital citizenship curriculum or enough support where we could even begin to tackle the idea of participatory culture. So where do I begin?
Since our school was in the process of adopting an AUP for our campus, I thought this would be a good place to start! With no AUP in place, the bright side is that we can create one that is empowering and reflective of digital citizenship values. Working alongside the tech committee, we have started looking at other school’s AUP and was looking to adopt one for the students and parents to sign. However, after reading McLeod’s Rethinking AUP blog post, we were inspired to create a more empowering AUP.
We really loved NIST’s Technology Philosophy because it was simple and had kid friendly language.
- Be Empowered
- Do Awesome things. Share with us your ideas and what you can do. Amaze us.
- Be Respectful
- Help Foster a school community that is principled and caring
- Be Smart and Safe.
- Think before you click. If you are uncertain, talk with us.
- Be Careful and Gentle.
- Our resources and those in other communities are limited. Help us take care of our devices and networks.
It reminds me of our essential agreements that run across the entire lower school. They are: be kind, be honest, be respectful, be responsible. As a technology committee, we are working on creating one that reflects both the tone of empowerment and positivity while including the PYP learner profiles.
Giving teachers a voice and a chance to have a say in creating this philosophy will give us a better buy in and help bring our teaching community on board but it’s not going to be easy. Just like in this Tedx Video, McLeod argues that we fight for more technology in the classroom only to inhibit students’ freedom while using technology. Basically put, we’re so scared to give them free access so we put all these restrictions on them. I started wondering where can we find the balance?
How do we create an open environment at school that encourages students to explore?
I think hosting some workshops for teachers to try and get them to understand this concept would be a good start. We would never take away books if students are caught reading something naughty but we would be more diligent in knowing what they are reading. If we taught students to be good digital citizens and to be more media literate, that would help alleviate teacher fears, which would in turn help.
So what can I do to help with media literacy at my school?
In Confronting the Challenges, they argue for an approach from all sides to help students become media literate. They list three areas: schools, after-school activities (ASA), and parents. After School Activities at my school are based on what teachers feel comfortable hosting as an after-school activity. I want to encourage teachers at my school to host more open-ended activities that would encourage media literacy. I think teachers would feel uncomfortable doing this by themselves if they weren’t too tech savvy but possible having me as a part-time partner would be encouraging. I could help teachers as well as students. For parents, I had great success with a few workshops that I hosted this year. They are were put on by our Parent Association and were conducted during the day but for next year, I would host workshops during the evenings so more parents could attend if they had to work during the day. For our school, adopting an AUP is a great first step, next, I hope we can host workshops for teachers to understand the role of technology and so they can understand how they can be good digital citizen role models for our students. According to Media Smarts – October 7-11 is Media Literacy Week. I think that might be a great opportunity to get started with both parents and teachers involved! I hope that next year, we can participate as a whole school!
It seems that there are many sides in creating a thorough technology program. So here I am, trying to put it all together. So far, we’re working on getting an AUP and technology philosophy together. At our school, I see that we lack teacher and student education about digital citizenship AND media literacy. As a tech committee, we agreed that next year with the younger grades, we would like to start our technology “lessons” without the technology. We want to students to understand some core basics about media and digital citizenship before we even start with the actual technology. Hopefully the tech committee and I can work together to create a strong digital citizen and media literacy curriculum so that we can give our students those 21st Century skills that they need.