Happy Leap Day! To celebrate this extra day we have a special blog post from the Office of eLearning's Michelle Green.
Today concludes a full month of celebrating Digital Learning in Indiana classrooms. It also marks the fifth year this blog has featured posts from educators around the state sharing the ways they are integrating technology into their instruction. Over the years, our shared learning has moved away from the how to do it aspect of technology integration and delved into addressing why we are embracing digital learning. It is exciting to see the growth and development of educators--especially since our bloggers exemplify what it means to be lifelong learners. And as a reader, you are no different.
This year’s bloggers have shared such a vast array of lessons, and as I read over the posts again, it strikes me how many ways Indiana students are digital learners. A couple of weeks ago, eLearning coaches from around the state came together for Coach Edcamp. As part of that day’s self-directed learning, Sara Hunter offered a forum on the ISTE Standards for Students Refresh. In the draft, the standards are identified as Empowered Learner, Knowledge Constructor, Innovative Designer/Maker, Computational Thinker, Creator and Communicator, Global Collaborator, and Digital Citizen. It occurs to me that they are not so much describing what students will be doing, so much as who students will be.
What does this mean for our students who are essentially digital citizens by default given the access they have in the classroom and at home on personal devices? Take for example, Amy Murch’s students. They are computational thinkers and empowered learners as they work through the process of directing their Spheros on a path. Not only are her students individually learning computer programming in an engaging way, when they work in groups they are practicing brainstorming and problem-solving. The same could be said for Katie McLaughlin’s students. I loved how McLaughlin pointed out the importance of giving students “time for play” when introducing these types of learning experiences. Given the nature of the Makey-Makey kits, it seems this would be a given. But are we open to that mindset when we introduce our students to tools like online discussion forums or virtual communication tools like Skype and Google Hangouts?
Valarie Anglemyer’s post detailed how she extends her students’ learning using a variety of tools. The Verso app caught my attention because it provides a means for students to post anonymously while the teacher can view authorship in a format that emulates social media. Envision scaffolding for the development of ethical and valuable contributions in a public forum. For the same reason, Therese Drista’s post on Today’s Meet made me consider the number of opportunities we have on a daily basis to help our students navigate their digital world.
I began to look at the last month’s worth of posts and think about the various ways that these lessons are avenues to teaching digital citizenship. I encourage everyone to make the leap. In the same way that educators have always prepared their students to be effective citizens and contributors to society, let’s parallel how our students can be safe and responsible citizens in the connected world.
Perhaps you want to learn more about what it means to be a digital citizen yourself. Common Sense Education provides a comprehensive curriculum on all the different aspects associated with being safe and responsible online. Would you like to connect with others and have a place to raise questions and share lessons on a regular basis? Consider yourself invited to join the Office of eLearning’s Digital Citizenship community of practice. No matter how small a step you take, it is a big step in the right direction! In order to capitalize on the real potential of technology for learning, we need to invest ourselves in this work. In fact, save the date for the first Indiana Digital Citizenship Week: September 12-16, 2016. It will be a week devoted to beginning a new school year with an emphasis on developing digital citizens.