Digital Learning Mission Statement

To holistically merge digital and real life experiences through education by promoting digital citizenship with an awareness of individual agency, ethics, mindfulness and digital wisdom.

As a Digital Education Leader, my mission is bridge how we learn to merge our digital lives with our real lives. To do this, I want to approach digital citizenship with a holistic, global and creative educational framework.  My goal as a digital education leader would be to model and teach mindfulness in determining the appropriate context for the application of the digital tools we are working with. This framework would then help inform best practices regarding the use of technology for our students, ourselves and our community.    

Guiding Principles Post:

3 Values that will shape my practice as a digital education leader

Principle #1: Attention to Use, Agency and Balance

ISTE 5a ~ Model and promote strategies for achieving equitable access to digital tools and resources and technology-related best practices for all students and teachers.

Technology related best practices in response to digital tools and resources has changed drastically since 2000 and continues to change at a rapid pace with access meaning different things depending on perspective (Marshall Jones and Rebecca Bridges, 2016).  There is a difference between ‘access to information vs. access to devices’ and fortunately, the access to devices has increased remarkably. Yet, this increase in access has not always led to an increase in how to best access the information these tools provide us with. As a digital education leader, I would like to focus on how to provide equitable access in learning HOW to maintain balance and individual agency as we sift through the overwhelming amount of information out there to find the best way to improve our capabilities as human beings.  Digital tools and resources have the capability of enhancing and extending our innate abilities (Prensky, 2013). Yet, effective deployment and use of tech can compensate for unequal access and bridge the gap when we are talking about the digital divide and how to overcome it. (Marshall Jones and Rebecca Bridges, 2016). I believe there will always be an issue around access and equity but that striving toward bridging it falls on better use of the access that is provided.

In order to best harness this collaboration between humans and technology, it is important to learn strategies to help us interrupt reflexive responses to stimuli and maintain a higher level of attention toward the purpose of why and how we are participating in using technology and digital resources. (Paulus, 2018). This connection to mindfulness gives me hope in that if explicitly taught, this strategy will help create and inspire equitable access for students, teachers and society. Instead of the tool being used as a way to commodify attention, society will demand that developers create platforms that build this collaboration instead of creating distance between society. Individual Agency and reflection on tempering our own negatives tendencies when it comes to balance of technology is essential in moving toward equitable use when it comes to access – using it to deepen knowledge not waste time. “Control is not just time spent online but rather mastery of an ethical space, of the way we live within our socio-technological environment.” (Ticona and Wellmon, 2015)

While attending an EDCamp conference, there was a lot of discussion about how intermediate students will come into an education setting seeming to know so much about technology and the digital world. They quickly know how to use a tool, an app, a game but can not do basic word documents or know how to best seek out information they need for a research paper efficiently, patiently and with awareness of what is a good source. Educating students (everyone, really) to dismiss the distractions of the digital world and instead knowing how to be purposeful, productive and engaged with the information being gathering and applied means even if you have less access, you will have better use of the access you have.

Principle #2: Merging online and offline morality and ethics

ISTE 5b ~ Model and facilitate safe, healthy, legal and ethical uses of digital information and technologies.

Opening students eyes to the realities – both positive and negative – of using digital information and technologies throughout our daily lives is crucial to providing a safe space for use.  The ethical foundations of who we are in real life and online life need to be taught as coinciding narratives. The ‘thinking gaps’ that Carrie James discussed in her book, Disconnected: Youth, the New Media, and the Ethics Gaps, bring a stark reality to the blindspots and disconnects that can occur when people treat online morality and ethics differently than in real life.  How we engage in using technology and the behaviors and choices that are made result in a direct statement about who we are as a whole person in this information age.  It is imperative that we teach and model using digital platforms in a safe, healthy, legal and ethical way so that we do not turn into the detached spectators that can result from having access to everything but committing to nothing. (Dryfus, 1999).

Modeling is an essential first step as an educator, parent and adult because this is where the youngest students/kids first see others using digital tools and resources.  This then becomes how they first experience and try out becoming digital citizens and consumers. Moral development starts in the lives of children immediately and digital morality development needs to be now thought of as an essential development phase in a child’s life. As a digital educator, my goal is to provide strong identity growth that naturally morphs into our interconnected digital and real lives so that students inherently know that there is no longer a separation of who you represent yourself as within our local and global community and our digital communities.  There is currently a mentorship gap because of how technology has developed so quickly and educating ALL in a way that does not incite fear and judgment but instead cultivates conscientious connectivity (James, 2014).

Principle #3: Importance of being Digitally wise and reflecting on the global possibilities of our digital world

ISTE 5c ~ Model and promote diversity, cultural understanding and global awareness by using digital age communication and collaboration tools to interact locally and globally with students, peers, parents and the larger community.

Diversity, cultural understanding and global awareness are positive outcomes of living in a technology driven age.  The ability to engage in far-reaching communication deepens our understanding and appreciation for others. Digital wisdom supports a global vision and the more we teach about mindfulness, awareness, reflection and temperance the closer we get to seeing our digital selves as part of the global digital community.   

One of the most concrete ways that would inspire growth in a global community is to have the ISTE standards be taught right along side core curriculum in schools.  The REP (Respect, Educate, Protect) protocol and guidelines coupled with the C4 model of learning (Collaboration, Creativity, Communication, Transformative Content) gives a pathway to achieving success despite the multi-faceted perspectives that can sometimes confuse and distract us from modeling empathy, connection and purpose. (Mike Ribble and Tessa Northern Miller, 2013) With resources such as Open Educational Resources (OER) and Common Sense Media, we can better collaborate and connect with a wide variety of people and perspectives as well as learn about tools and programs that have been successful in meeting educational technology standards.  Using the resources mentioned, the connections are endless – from a neighborhood across town to a country across the world.

Yet, being digitally wise is crucial to understanding global awareness and different perspectives and approaches. It means making wiser decisions by using enhanced technology but distinguishing between real and ethical issues versus preferences or prejudices. (Prensky, 2013)  As digital educators, if we can bridge the ethical/empathetic gap between our physical and digital selves then we have made great progress toward a more compassionate global society.

Brainstormed list of possible ways to start accomplishing these ideas:

  • Innovative Professional Development for educators
  • School community and public classes around a holistic approach that focuses on the fundamentals of awareness and mindfulness – balance.
  • Creating relationships between developers, educators and consumers
  • Having conversations about mindfulness and attention with the people around us to have these ideas branch out and inspire more discussions about digital addiction and positive use of digital platforms and tools
  • Computer science focus – the creation and bones of the tools and programs we use
  • Combining the ‘old way’ with the ‘new way’ – don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater
  • Mentorship programs for youth and adults to help spread the word on healthy and safe technology use
  • Digital Citizenship programs – certificates you can earn that focus on creating global citizen ambassadors
  • K-12 digital education curriculum and funding for digital education leaders in every school – cross pollination with core curriculum
  • and more…the ideas are exciting and endless…now, to sift out what is best for our global  society and to grow and learn with all the new tools and resources being developed!

References:

James, C. (2014). Disconnected: Youth, the new media, and the ethics gap. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

Hubert Dreyfus, “Anonymity versus Commitment: The Dangers of Education on the Internet,” Philosophy of Technology, 641-47

ISTE Standards for coaches. ISTE. Retrieved from: https://www.iste.org/standards/for-coaches.

Julia Ticona and Chad Wellmon, “Uneasy in Digital Zion,” The Hedgehog Review 17:1 (2015): 58-71

Marc Prensky, “From Digital Natives to Digital Wisdom,” in From Digital Natives to Digital Wisdom: Hopeful Essays for 21st Century Learning (Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Corwin, 2013), 201-15

Marshall Jones and Rebecca Bridges, “Equity, Access, and the Digital Divide in Learning Technologies: Historical Antecedents, Current Issues, and Future Trends,” in The Wiley Handbook of Learning Technology, 327-47

Michael Paulus, “Attention, Reality, and Truth,” Patheos, March 21, 2018

Mike Ribble and Teresa Northern Miller, “Educational Leadership in an Online World: Connecting Students to Technology Responsibly, Safely, and Ethically,” Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 17:1 (2013): 137-45

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