This morning I was able to connect with my twenty year old son in New York State via Facetime. I don’t remember exactly how it came about, but one topic of conversation was the eighteen month shelf life of information on the web. It was meant to be a side conversation, not lasting more than a minute. After all, he grew up with technology. So he’d be the first to agree, right? Wrong. He fought me tooth and nail on the subject. And finally, we arrived at the compromise that SOME information we learn today will be obsolete in eighteen months. But even the steep learning curve he is on right now, after unwrapping the early HERO 3+ Easter present, won’t be for naught in eighteen months, he argued. After all, even a new future HERO won’t be that different from the one he is holding in his hands right now. So there. Point taken. I guess.
My son is a digital citizen of the world. And so are we. Whether we want to or not. Those who don’t get on board will be left behind. I hear that being said at work all the time now, in regards to technology and our recent switch from First Class to Google Mail. Luckily, my son, and his generation, get excited by the prospect of learning new things online. I’ve been doing some reading on Digital Citizenship, but I also think that a trait of being one is to question the multitude of information that is out there on the web. I grew up being told that facts are facts, and I believed what I was taught – for the most part. My son and his generation, though, do not swallow things hook, line, and sinker. An aura of healthy skepticism surrounds young digital citizens. And I regard it as a good thing, especially when it comes to the oxymoron ‘online privacy’ and internet safety.
It’s all about the process
In regards to school and digital citizenship, students should have a voice instead of having the rules laid out for them on day one. Teachers, likewise, should know what’s possible for the grade level they teach. Cool stuff is out there. Digital citizenship education should start in Kindergarten, and Twitter as well as Blogging can be started there as well.
When I talked to my EAL Kindergarten students about their responsibilities regarding technology, I didn’t get much further than caring for the device.
That’s because we are still in the early stages of moving towards an early elementary school culture where 21st Century skills are taught and embedded in the classroom routine. As an EAL teacher who only supports with pull-out classes in Kindergarten, I can introduce my students to new technological activities and skills, yet for them to become familiar with them they need to be repeatedly exposed to it in their regular classrooms. There also need to be enough devices to go around, I suppose.
Nevertheless, I am working on new ways to infuse my COETAIL learnings into my EAL support doings. As I continue to work on my final global project for Course 2, I get to involve my EAL K students AND teach them about global citizenship in the process. None of this comes from just me, however. The more I explore new ground in regards to technology and 21st Century teaching, the more I also find myself in communication with IT Facilitators, COETAIL students/graduates, and tech savvy colleagues. I cannot do this on my own and, more and more, do I find that I am not MEANT to do it on my own. There is still relief in that. So I’m saying it again, even though I am repeating myself.
Next week we will be creating an imovie with one EAL Kindergarten pull-out class. It will be an introduction of each student followed by their favorite place/activity/teacher/thing at SSIS. This is part of the global final project. In the meantime, I will take the opportunity to teach my students about internet safety, like keeping private things private. We will talk about the fact that the students in the school in China we try to connect with can see our video. But so can everybody else in the world. That’s why we don’t say our last names or talk about where we live exactly. Keep private things safe.
Looking further ahead
In grade 5, my EAL students need to be safe, legal, and ethical when it comes to digital information. They might not be thinking about their own personal work as being worth protecting yet, but it is time nevertheless to understand fair use and copyright. But do they? I asked twenty-or-so fifth graders yesterday about copyright, and while a few knew quite a bit, many more did not know and/or couldn’t put it into words. I see another project coming on…