My mission as a digital education leader is to motivate and support educators so that they can responsibly incorporate technology into their daily instruction with a focus on global engagement, equitable access, and digital citizenship.

I was asked to come up with my own mission statement as a digital education leader for my grad school class: Values, Ethics, and Foundations in Digital Education. I have been pondering on my mission statement for a while now. In my current position, I am a classroom teacher, so I spent time thinking about what is important to me as an educator. I have had a few opportunities to coach my fellow staff members, but haven’t quite made it into a leadership role I am looking for. With all of these considerations, I wrote my mission statement with what I hope to be if I become a digital coach in future years.

There are many other values that I think are important for educators to consider when intentionally incorporating technology into their teaching. I narrowed it down to these three because in my personal experience these have been the values that can have the greatest impact on my students. I also think it is important to teach students the other values, but these three are a good starting point.

Global Engagement

This value is very important to me as a person. As the world continues to become more connected through our digital realities it becomes important to know what is going on in places other than your hometown. In Information- A Very Short Introduction it talked about how our world has progressed to become a global society due to our connections made from digital devices. This really struck me because even in my lifetime I have seen our society change going from not really knowing what’s going on in other countries to all of a sudden having information at our finger tips. I have made friends from other countries and been able to stay in contact with them even though we live far apart physically. Being able to socialize and work in a global society will be a skill our students must be taught to be successful adults.

One way I have thought about to teach students about other societies is to use student devices to research about other places in the world and then share what they have learned with their class in a creative way. They could make a video, PowerPoint, or some other digital presentation. By doing this, students are increasing their abilities in using digital devices and learning about another part of the world. By sharing their learning with classmates, they are giving meaningful content to their peers in a very real context.

Another thing from this reading that stayed with me was the idea that as our digital world grows and evolves we have moved away from holding knowledge and moved more towards finding information when we need it. Some argue that this is making people lazier because they can just google or search up an answer. Fiordi talks about how the distinction between our reality and the digital world is fading. They are beginning to become so intertwined they may no longer be easily separated. I am choosing to be an optimist about our digital world and reality. I do not think it is making people lazy. I like to think that our digital environment is bringing people closer together and making information accessible to whoever needs it.

Equitable Access

When picking the values for my mission statement I knew that equitable access was going to be one of the values that I chose. This is something that many school districts and teachers are grappling with, so I feel it is important to address possibilities to make teaching in our current educational system more equitable for all students.

Unfortunately, one of the biggest factors of technology in the classroom has come down to money. Districts that have a lot of money seem to have brought technology in quickly, while those that are struggling to budget for even the most basic supplies tend to get left out. This leads to what has been called “the digital divide” by Robbin Chapman. This term is important for educators to take into consideration because we will not always have students who have access or devices in their personal lives. As we move into a society where success could mean knowing how to connect in a digital world, it is important that we give students opportunity to use it.

In The Wiley Handbook of Learning Technology, Marshall Jones and Rebecca Bridges gave some examples about how places all over the world are trying to bridge the digital divide by giving either access or device opportunities to those who might not otherwise have it. One example came from India and was called “hole-in-the-wall project”. In a rural village, Sugatra Mitra installed a computer in a wall that only worked in English. Kids worked and played on it. When she came back to check on it the kids asked for faster processing and a better mouse in English. This simple project where a computer was installed and then left for kids to play around with was so meaningful to them.

Some other ideas shared included having access spots in communities that families can go to in order to connect to the internet. I thought this was a great idea as well as it could bring families together and allow them to work/learn cooperatively. When parents don’t have the ability to access information online, they may not always be able to help their child do schoolwork. Giving them an access point could be a bridge that gives them an opportunity to learn with their child. We all know parents are the first teacher, and I would love to see more parents in my classroom be able to work and learn side by side with their child.

Digital Citizenship

As a current classroom teacher part of my responsibility is to teach my students about digital citizenship. This includes more than just being kind online – it is also important for students to learn how to communicate with others in a digital world. Digital citizenship includes nine elemental areas that fall under three headings: respect, educate, protect. These are three areas that are essential for our students to learn in order to function successful in an online world.

One idea that we talked about in our unit on digital citizenship that stood out to me came from the reading “From Digital Natives to Digital Wisdom.” In this reading, the term “digital wisdom” was discussed as where we want students to move towards. As our society continues to advance we see the trend of digital natives, or those who have grown up with access at their fingertips. As educators, it is our job to help students learn how to become digitally wise where they have the ability and wisdom required to make ethical decisions and problem solve in an ever-changing digital world.

In one of our readings, Marc Prensky talks about some things that people can do to be digitally wise. He describes a person with digital wisdom as one who is able to make judgments and decisions through use of digital enhancements whether it be for moral purposes or problem solving. He believed that we are moving toward a world where digital enhancements would be required to make wise decisions. One of the things he said that I really took to heart is that digital wisdom must be taught. This is important for education because teachers have the opportunity to work closely with students so they should be the ones to share digital wisdom. Prensky also talks about how someone is digitally wise when they actively seek out new tools and opportunities to learn about them. I thought this part of digital wisdom was very important because teachers often find themselves faced with learning new digital tools and programs in their classrooms. This provides a great opportunity for teachers to model how to go about working with and trying out new technology. If teachers are willing to be risk takers, so will their students.

Moving away from the classroom I have been thinking about what I can do as a potential future digital coach. In the ISTE standards for coaching one of the areas focuses specifically on Digital Citizenship. It can be found in standard 7 and is called “Digital Citizen Advocate”. I really like that because I am currently an advocate for digital citizenship in my own classroom, so I feel like it could be an easy transition being an advocate for other teachers. One area that I have been purposefully working on in my classroom is modeling for my students how to have respectful online interactions and balancing their technology. This ties in to 7B of the coaching standard addresses this from a coaching perspective of working with others to promote the respectful use and balance of time.

Another area that I have actually been able to work on a little with other teachers in my building is 7C which talks about supporting educators and students to examine sources of online media. One of the things teachers continue to encourage their students to do is check their sources. This can be a challenging task, so it is something my school district has been working on to teach teachers how to teach students to find good and trustworthy sources. I really like that we are seeing this happen in the elementary setting because more and more information is becoming readily available online. It is essential for us to teach students how to sift through information and find the best sources for their work and learning.

Conclusion

There are many values out there that I hope to share with students and other teachers. I hope that I can help both educators and students to learn to be safe, smart, and responsible while using the many technologies we have. I hope that together we can all learn to embrace advancements that come. The three values I focused on in this post are near and dear to my beliefs as a classroom teacher. I want my student to go out in the world ready to be successful at any job or career path they choose. Teaching them how to thrive in a digital age is one way I can give my students a leg up for what is to come.

References

Chapman, Robbin (2016). Diversity and Inclusion in the Learning Enterprise: Implications for Learning Technologies. In Rushby, Nicholas John & Surry Daniel (ed), The Wiley Handbook of Learning Technology (287-300). Malden, Mass.: Wiley Blackwell

Featured image retrieved from Business vector created by upklyak – www.freepik.com.

Jones, Marshall & Bridges, Rebecca (2013). 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). John Wiley & Sons Inc.

Floridi, Luciano (2010). Chapter 1: The Information Revolution. In Information—A Very Short Introduction (xix-xxviii). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

ISTE Standards for Coaches. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.iste.org/standards/for-coaches

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

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