Course 2 Final Project

Sitting here wondering how we’ve come to the end of Course 2 already when it seems like  yesterday this CoETaIL journey was just beginning. But, of course, since then, I’ve become a diligent reader of my ever-growing RSS feed, started checking my Twitter account a bit more regularly (and perhaps even using it from time to time), and found a growing desire to keep pushing forward to learn more. I think that this is the greatest accomplishment, finding that motivation within yourself. It is what we strive for with the students in our classes.

Some rights reserved by .m for matthijs

#intrinsic motivation?

For this project, of working to develop an Acceptable Use Policy for your school, I responded to a Twitter request from Mike Nonato who works at Pechersk School International in Ukraine. We took a relatively relaxed approach to this project, basically just sending each other Google Docs and emails and offering feedback along the way. I’ve read some blog posts that seem to indicate a more formal process and document, but I think what we’ve done works all the same. You can find Mike’s blog here.

Since I currently work at the American School of Milan, I set out first to find out what kind of AUP was already in place. I found that our Parent/Student Handbook offers a few pages of information and rules mostly designed for our Upper School One-to-One Laptop Program. (Our program is essentially a bring your own device model, where the students purchase a computer that must meet certain requirements. We offer a model (Dell Latitude) that many students purchase and others bring a different device of their choosing.) There is a section on Appropriate Technology Usage Guidelines, stating that you must bring a working laptop to school every day, that you are expected to have a fully charged battery and bring your charger, that playing digital games not assigned by a teacher is prohibited, along with using file sharing software and downloading, distributing and collecting pirated software and other digital media. Consequences are referred to the general discipline section of the handbook.

There are no separate guidelines written for the elementary school. So, since Mike and I are both Integration Specialists in K-5 settings much of our conversation centered on what we would want to use for students in this age group.

The document that I’ve put together is something that I think could work for many elementary buildings. I researched some of the AUPs from other schools and referred often to International School of Bangkok‘s document designed for grades 4 and 5. (Thanks to Cheryl Terry for posting this on her blog.) I thought it was a great jumping off point and gave me a framework for how I wanted to format to be.

Here’s what I’ve put together. Because it is a K-5 setting I think that using positive statements is important, along with keeping it short and to the point. I think that with grades 3-5 you could discuss this document as it is, but for K-2 a more broken down version using less text and more pictures and images would be important.

Thoughts? I’d appreciate the feedback and hope to work with my school administration to consider implementing a document like this and allow us to be proactive in our approach to technology use.

Drawing the Line…Part Two

When I last wrote about “Drawing the Line” it was more in reference to where we set the boundaries for using images in the classroom and what we teach our students about this and the rules of “Fair Use”. This time, however, I’m using the phrase again to reflect on what I’ve been reading about the role of students, technology and keeping them safe.

Some rights reserved by grahamc99

It seems that one very difficult question to answer is where the line is between responsibility of the school and that of the parents to manage students’ online behaviors. I read about instances of one family’s determination to eliminate texting as part of their children’s cell phone packages, hoping to improve face to face communication. I read about Avery Doninger’s story, where she was punished at school for comments she posted online about the school administration.  I read about where schools have gotten involved to remove inappropriate Facebook pages.

So, as a teacher, what is our responsibility to our students?

I believe that if we are using computers, the internet, and other technology tools in the classroom, then part of our instruction must include relevant discussions about being a responsible digital citizen, observing standard netiquette practices, and considering the digital footprint you leave behind.

The following sources may be good places to start finding resources for helping your students be better prepared for living in today’s online world.

Common Sense Media’s CyberSmart Curriculum- A large collection of activities that cover a broad range of internet and computer safety topics.

Learning Lab- A website from the Virginia Department of Education that uses Garfield to teach kids about computer safety and some other topics as well. Most lessons are three part, and include a video and an activity or two.

NetSmartz Kids- From the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, this animated website has videos that help kids learn about the dangers online.

Teaching kids about their digital footprint- An article I found on KC Kids Doc website written specifically for parents, but I thought it offered some interesting perspective to helping students understand the concept of a digital footprint.

Teaching Kids to Manage their Digital Footprint- The Innovative Educator’s blog post on the topic, with resources included below the post. It also has a promotional video for Daniel Pink’s book Drive embedded, which I thought was an interesting connection to thinking about your life and how you’d want your digital footprint to reflect upon you.

What do you teach your kids about in terms of their online safety and being responsible digital citizens? Does your school regulate their online behavior out of school?

If you have any other websites that you’ve found particularly useful, I hope you’ll share them in the comments!