Becoming Connected Citizens

via Tanya Avrith

Are we Connected Citizens?

Are we ready to prepare our students in becoming Connected Citizens?

I saw this image in my Twitter feed last week by Tanya Avrith last week, where she decided to make a graphic of a quote that she had heard from a colleague of hers (Sam Bruzzese). I’ve been following Tanya for a year or so now, and she has provided me much guidance in understanding what an effective digital citizenship program needs to look like.

When I decided to include this into my post, I went back and I found many more related tweets/quotes that were on her Twitter feed:

It doesn’t get more powerful (and true) than this. Digital (Connected – I like it!) Citizenship is a topic that we all need to address from various angles now – not tomorrow.

In an earlier post, I shared my thoughts on how school boards are still basing how much security and tracking is necessary within the walls of their networks is needed from a corporate stand point. The problem with this model is that – as I stated previously, we cannot keep our students behind the walls or reality – we are only harming them by doing so.

How can we teach/model Digital Citizenship in schools if students are in a sheltered environment?


In a meeting this week with our Technology Committee, we discussed some factors that pertain to such walls, including Youtube and Facebook, which are currently blocked on our networks. These are two completely different tools that could be used in a productive means for education and learning tools in today’s classrooms. I am not agreeing nor am I disagreeing that we should be opening up everything at this point, given that it would be such a drastic change that it would leave for much hype and distraction. All I am saying is that before we make any decisions, we have to have a plan in place not only for us as leaders, but for our students.

The conversation then led to a digital citizenship, and how there is a lack direction or even a plan to follow right now. I disagree with this a little, as there are so many resources on digital citizenship out there that we just need to know where to find them. Gathering resources shared by others will allow us to make a plan – not only at the local level, but at the provincial level.

In my opinion, we just need to make concerted effort to look for and gather these resources. For example, the Lester B. Pearson School Board has a very thorough and well thought out plan, which has been shared by Tanya and many others who have seen it:

I think teachers who are actively using technology in their classrooms don’t give themselves enough credit. They are providing digital citizenship to their students in more ways than one by are embedding into their lessons, without even knowing it.

Here’s hoping that a program such as the one shared by Tanya Avrith receives the much deserved attention and credit, and that we take on the task developing an effective plan to teach our students these critical skills today that will help make them sound digital citizens.

Embracing Tomorrow, Today: Choosing The Right Path

Well as the old saying goes: there’s a first for everything.

This week, for me, it’s attending an OFSAA event as a coach.

As a teacher/eLC, I have been coaching the golf team for six years now. My friends and colleagues would all agree that I for one love the game of golf, and coaching this sport was a natural fit when the opportunity came up.

Attending the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Association event in any sport is an amazing feat to achieve. This week, 120 of the provinces best young golfers are together at the Stratford Golf & Country Club, competing for the championship with friends, family, coaches and colleagues supporting and watching on.

golfpicLast night at the players banquet, Brett Nymeyer was the guest speaker. An alumni of Stratford Northwestern, Brett is now PGA Tour Canada Player. He delivered a short but meaningful speech about his experiences going through high school playing many sports, and eventually taking golf seriously at the age of 20. The golf scholarship process can be daunting for many athletes as with any athletic or academic scholarship choosing decision, and Brett gave an excellent speech on making decisions based on a lot of information that many people don’t consider.

Brett focused his speech on doing research in order to see past the bright colours and what people may think as ‘the school’ to go to. He didn’t choose the right school for him at first – the school that was the best for him. He explained how most schools simply try to sell their programs, and how to make sure students did their homework, which was seeing and hearing the schools and programs first hand to really get a sense of what exactly they’d be committing to.

As I sat and listened, I related his words to the paths and decisions teachers need to be more conscious of while on their journeys of professional development.

When it comes to making a shift in teaching practice to incorporate technology into the classroom, there isn’t really a consistent schedule for when teachers should – or have to – make that leap of faith. Certain tools or philosophies aren’t for everyone, and that can be easily supported. There are, however, many more options and entry points to choose from these days, putting it both on the teachers to do their homework and to pick what’s right for them, and also (primarily) administration and technology coaches/consultants/leaders to help guide teachers in choosing what’s best suited for them.

I won’t be the first to admit that technology in education is not going away; in fact, quite the opposite. Teachers are asked on a regular basis to make decisions based on their professional judgment when it comes to their students. Adapting new and current teaching practices shouldn’t be any different.

Seeing as the future will no doubt include various forms of technology in either post-secondary studies and the workforce, let’s not leave assessment solely to student works, but applying it to ourselves more as it directly affects how we prepare our students for the future. We all need a path – it’s time to shift gears and move forward, not before we do our homework first.