If you teach them how to share it’s more than fair!
This week the Great EdTech debate challenge fell to our team. We represented the Disagree side of the debate which focused on: Openness and sharing in schools unfair to our kids.
If you are interested here’s our opening arguments.
As I first read through the questions, I wondered is it fair not to share? Teaching in and of itself is sharing of knowledge. Our goal as educators is to share our knowledge of a concept in a variety of ways that encourages deeper understanding in our students. As Wiley and Green (2012) pointed out in Why Openness in Education, we even judge educators on their ability to share and impart understanding to students (para. 5 & 6).
So sharing is part of what we do as educators…. rather it’s the what, how and where we share that we really need to think about? If you think back to when you were growing up, some of us perhaps, didn’t have to worry about the photo someone snapped at a gathering or comment that was shared. Our networks were smaller. Perhaps your embarrassing photo made the yearbook or a friend actually had the roll of film developed. The chances of widespread distribution and repercussions were on a smaller scale. Now don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t fun if the wrong person got a hold of a photo or some how continued to share things. It wasn’t however on the same scale as social media provides today. So keep in mind that many of us who are now parents didn’t grow up in a world with social media or cell phones (mobile phones came in bags and you could only use then in case of emergency because who could afford the cost per minute).
Is the answer to attempt to remove technology from our lives and avoid any device that could capture our image so that facial recognition software can’t identify us? I guess you can try but for the large majority of us it’s not practical; moreover, sticking our head in the proverbial sand won’t make the issue go away, but someone might make a nice meme out of it.
In my experience it’s about having the courage to step into the conversation with students and talk about what’s going on. Is oversharing happening? What type of images are being posted? What if you just like or comment – does that make you part of it? It also means that we need to model or attempt thoughtful digital citizenship the best we can. This means that we need to know what engaged, thoughtful digital citizens do. While we may not all have access to Digital Learning Consultants and I have to say thank-you to Thad, Kirk and Robert for their ongoing encouragement and support during my years as a teacher and consultant. It makes a difference to have knowledgeable and reflective people to talk to about digital issues. So as the Agree team mentioned during the debate, we live in the real world and ongoing to access to PD and support people may not always be possible; however, we do live in an age where there is ample helpful information online about digital citizenship and digital footprints. I first learned about the elements of Digital Citizenship on Mike Ribble’s website.
What about oversharing? You know it’s going to happen and it’s like a digital tattoo. It has the potential to fade but never really go away. How do you prevent it? I think it begins with open communication with our children. As educators and parents, we have a great opportunity to talk about the pictures we take and how we share them. When you snap that pic and post it to Facebook, do you talk to your child about where you are posting it? Am I posting it publicly for everyone to see on my profile or am I sharing it with a select group of people in a secret Facebook group? Think about the conversation potential that exists with our Pre-K and K teachers as they document and share student learning with parents. I’ve seen our early learning teachers engage in thoughtful conversations about what they are sharing and who will see it. As a parent, I really appreciate getting the updates of what my daughter is doing in class. Plus hearing her voice as she explains it is priceless. Sharing matters.
Worried about oversharing? It’s happening all around us and it may be impacting our lives more than we know.
On the flip side, I remember back to a time when I was co-teaching my Bio 30 class with a teacher of a grade 5 class in a different community. We skyped everyday and each grade 12 was paired with a grade 5 student in the 1:1 learning project. We talked often about the expectations and how we needed to be engaged digital citizens, yet a grade 5 overshared info – nothing earth shattering but enough that the Bio 30 student was concerned. What it did do was generate a healthy discussion about what was appropriate to share in our wikispace discussions and how we can learn from the experience. We were working in a safe private space, so it was a great learning opportunity for all of us. One that will hopefully remind us all to think before we share.
So starting the conversation early will help engage students and teachers in thoughtfully sharing positive experiences to grow their digital footprint, which in turn helps model the practice to parents and family that may not have considered those aspects. Kathy Cassidy shared in her video that yes what we share in social media is permanent but because of that it’s a great way to look back and see how much we have grown. She also talked about the value of modeling how to use social media and in doing so how we influence student’s understanding of the world and practice empathy.
Steven W. Anderson shared Meredith Stewart’s tweet, “If you aren’t controlling your footprint, others are.” He encouraged readers to start building their brand – their digital identity. You do this by sharing and creating positive online footprints, but as the Agree team pointed out – you need to watch out for bouncing. When a photo that you have shared gets used for something else. As Anderson pointed out, not only do you have to actively build a positive identity you have to monitor it. Alec Couros noted in our follow up conversation that just googling our names doesn’t truly include all of our digital footprint. We need to consider the data that is tracked in all the apps that we use.
Alec discussed how facial recognition technology is now available and when he showed us how it worked with his own images, we realized just how many people there are out there that look just like him. (I mean exactly like him! They in fact are using one of his photos as their profile picture). We have to learn how to be aware of the footprints we are actively creating, as well as those that are being created without our consent.
Should all of this scare you as an educator away from sharing? or considering the sharing of student work? It’s important to consider the positive impacts of sharing. Rather than only relying on standardized assessments to ensure academic standards are being met. Bence asked “what if learner work were shared on a wider level so that the work could speak for itself. She shared examples of how being transparent with what’s happening in the classroom has added “another layer of authenticity to education” (para. 4). Learners have become more active participants in their own education especially when they know the audience is more than just the classroom. As with any online venture in education, Bence encouraged educators to check with their schools and districts to ensure practices align with responsible use.
Here’s part of our closing arguments from Tuesday night – sharing matters and it’s important to teach our children how to share.
You are welcome to check out our team’s resource list. We’ve selected a number of articles and guides to help educators grow their understanding of sharing.
These resources are a great place to start.
- Digital Citizenship Education in Saskatchewan Schools
- Digital Footprint & Reputation – Common Sense Media
What will matter in the future as our Facebook babies grow up and realize just what their parents and teachers have shared? I can only imagine where we will be when I think about how things have evolved in the first half of my teaching career… or even in the last 5 years for that matter.
What matters today is that we start the conversation. Hopefully if we start today and engaging in ongoing conversations about digital citizenship, we will all learn to pause before we post and think about the potential ripple effect.
Regardless of social media or old fashioned information sharing asking ourselves the following question will impact how we try to live our lives.
What legacy do you want to leave behind?
As I’ve had a chance to read through other blog posts, these are a few that have stood out to me:
- Jeremy B explained we all need to engage in digital citizenship education. He suggested introducing it to parents at meet the teacher nights as a way to engage parents. He noted that it’s also about sharing the resources we have with parents.
- Erin B shared her decision to share student work using Seesaw and how she shared expectations with parents and students. It’s making the time to explicitly teach the students about digital citizenship and then apply it to their learning that truly makes a difference. Learning about digital citizenship in authentic situations truly makes a difference.
- I really enjoyed Amy’s blog post. In particular, she referenced a an article by Geddes that questioned how quickly we post. She pointed out that when we had to go to our computers, log in, find the photo, upload, add the comment and then post – that we were more thoughtful. Has tech made it so easy that we’ve eliminated our thinking time?
- Justine – made a very interesting point – our digital footprints can change as our names do which build on the conversation started by Amy S. I also agree that sharing a letter home with parents that invites them to participate and be aware of the social media use in a classroom is important. If you remember Mark Prensky’s Digital Natives vs. Digital Immigrants articles, Justine shared a great way to think of the differences in ways that we use the internet as Digital visitors vs Digital Residents. She also shared this quick video.
- Just listed to Alec’s TED X Talk. A very thoughtful look at the value of understanding our digital identity and just how connected we are. Lots of great ideas to think about here.
- Tyler’s post Unfair? Nope.pointed out the value of helping students learn about digital citizenship and have the opportunity to practice it. Plus he also shares some very helpful resources.
- Luke’s post about “The More We Share, the More we Have” raises many thoughtful points about why we share what we do and the value included in it. You’ll also want to check out the oversharing video – well worth the watch.
- Kelsie shared many great points but when she shared the Terms of Service – Didn’t read it website things got really interesting.