It Takes a Village

A Cambodian school I visited in 2011
A Cambodian school I visited in 2011

Whose responsibility is it to teach students to be safe online?


Is that enough of a response?  

In all seriousness we are all responsible. The African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child” hasn’t changed. “We live in a face-paced, instant information, and pressure-packed world. Today’s children are faced with a myriad of both challenges and opportunities.”  Students need guidance, instruction, and a safe space to learn from all of us. PE teachers, language teachers, classroom teachers, administrators, librarians, peers, and the list goes on and on. As we’ve learned so far in this course, the internet and our use of it is powerful and can be positive, if we believe what we read we need to holistically educate students on how to harness this vast tool. Besides, there is so much to learn about the internet– digital footprints, creative commons, remixing, privacy, the list is too extensive for one teacher to cover. Just as we have social emotional curriculums that explicitly teach students, we need to explicitly teach students proper online usage.  

Since the amount of information is so vast and always changing it can be intimidating to touch (not to mention teach). With all the myths out there and confusion about laws it can be overwhelming, but here’s the thing…if it is overwhelming to us as educators, imagine how overwhelming it is to students.  They are online, there is no getting around it. We can’t leave them high and dry, they need to be immersed in online safety (and the everything else we’ve learned so far) in all classes.  With a resounding and unified message coming at them different fronts they are more likely to practice safe use.

Technology is everywhere (photo is mine)
Technology is everywhere (photo is mine)

There are tons of sites, resources, and programs out there to help us. Tools like Generation Safe can help schools self assess their digital citizenship. Also, Mike Ribble lays out Nine Elements of Digital Citizenship along with questions we can ask ourselves to guide our teaching..  After reading this week I kept thinking that sometimes the most meaningful teaching about online safety and internet use come in the unexpected teachable moments. These moments are easy to sweep under the rug or they may take time away from your planned lesson, but these are the ones students remember and need the most.

Now the real question is how do we get everyone to take responsibility for teaching our students how to interact and use the internet?  I work at a school where a lot of teachers have technophobia. How do I respect each teacher as their administrator, but also move them along to meet the needs of our learners? Ray Nasher thinks you should  invest our energy in the teachers not yet ready , I would agree, but actually doing that and making an impact is hard. I also think having organic grassroot leadership from teachers is very effective. What do you think? What has worked at your school?

Beg, Borrow, Steal.

Image credit Austin Kleon
Image credit Austin Kleon


A professor I had in my educational courses at Furman University said this is what teachers do. Beg. Borrow. Steal.  It is how we survive. I laughed at it and then in my first year teaching when I worked on an amazing team I found the truth in it. Could you please send me the review you created?  Thankfully I didn’t have to experience the stealing part. After this week’s readings I would have to add another to the list…remix.

The first time I thought twice about copyright and photographs was in my Masters class when Clint Hamada gave a presentation.  I observed that underneath each picture on his presentation was credit and a link to the source.  Of course I learned all about plagiarism in school and knew that I couldn’t take someone’s words, but images? I figured if I was just using them for school or professionally and wasn’t earning money on them than it was all good.

Living in China didn’t help my cause either.  The Chinese are known for not obeying  copyright laws. I once ate at an “Outback” in Beijing, seriously the same menu and everything, but it was called Aussie (or something ridiculously close). I got used to  never trusting a beer by its bottle.  Brands didn’t mean anything because it was just a knock off.  I guess I just got used to it, and sadly  didn’t really even think twice about copying texts for my class. After this week’s researching I kept asking myself, even if we aren’t in the country do we follow the laws?  My answer is now a resounding YES.  

If one of the reasons I create a positive digital footprint is to model for my students, shouldn’t I do the same in all aspects of my life? I want my students to give credit where credit is do, and realize when they are working from someone else’s work.  I’m pretty sure they all know not to plagiarise, but pictures, music, and videos is something I need to work on with them.  I need to dig deeper as to where to start, but I did stumble upon (and learn about) the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The EFF thinks students “… need to understand their digital rights and responsibilities in order to create, critique, and comment on their culture. This curriculum fills an educational void, introducing critical questions of digital citizenship into the classroom without misinformation that scares kids from expressing themselves in the modern world.” (emphasis mine) I love this approach because it is so similar to how I feel about digital footprints.

Photo Credit: gato-gato-gato via Compfight cc


I loved Rebekah’s site on Remixing and based of an image (above) followed a trail to Austin Kleon’s site.  He thinks, “You are a mash up of what you let into your life. Anyone can be creative if they surround themselves with the right influence, play nice, and work hard.”  That couldn’t be more true. Then after watching Kirby Fergusson’s video my mind was blown. He focuses on hollywood and the music industry, but it completely applies to all aspects of creation. He spreads the message that everything is a remix.  There is nothing wrong with this, but it becomes wrong when we don’t attribute the creator. In his TED Talk Embrace the Remix Kirby says, “Creativity comes from without, not from within. We are dependent on one another.” It all comes back to connectivism, we learn through, with, and from others.  

Honestly I wasn’t sure how to use remixing in my teaching.  Then by happenchance my principal asked me to help plan a culminating assembly for our social emotional curriculum. Students will share videos they created to show how we can have empathy at our school, but we wanted to get the students excited and what better way than for teachers to make fools of themselves.  Enter the Village People.  We wrote new lyrics about all we have learned this semester to none other than YMCA.  Now, I am working on creating a video with our lyrics to the song. What a perfect opportunity to model attributing credit and remixing.

I also looked through a lot of examples of remixing in the classroom from Rebekah’s site. I loved Ben Sheridan’s global stop motion video project for kindergartners. I was amazed by all of the contributions. How fun is this Choose Your Own Adventure Hamlet style? And if authors instagrammed is a fun read.

I loved getting lost in the links this week.  I have a long way to go with remixing and I can’t wait to play and figure out ways to get our students and teachers remixing (and giving credit of course). Would anyone be interested in doing a remix project?  

Public is the New Default


Photo Credit: Thomas Leuthard via Compfight cc


The whole issue of privacy doesn’t really worry me.  Maybe it’s because I am a Xennial, having grown up on the cusp of technology domination. The author of this article describes my peers best with,  “We had one foot in the traditional ways of yore and one foot in the digital information age, we appreciate both in a way that other generations don’t.” Growing up things around me were always changing. I vividly remember my elementary school getting the big clunky Macs and using floppy disks. I used AOL Instant Messenger, was at one of the universities with The Facebook, and also had personal email accounts before my parents did.  I fumbled through the privacy issue as a college student and thankfully learned what to post and what not to post before the days of things going viral (sidenote: check out this video of Why Things Go Viral).  

I personally appreciate the convenience, help, and protection that comes with all the features of  Google, Amazon suggestions, and personalized news on Zite. I understand that I am allowing access to my personal interests, but in return I get a unique experience tailored to me whenever I use this sites. That doesn’t mean I am careless about my information, I only allow certain apps to have access.  Of course I understand sites can track my history and cookies, but I am not worried about that. As Jeff Utecht says in his blogpost Privacy, we can’t have it both ways. Our love/hate relationship with technology is a personal battle, one that I stand on the side of love. I would go on to add that we live in an instantaneous society where convenience trumps all and with that comes some compromise. What are you willing to compromise?


In Jeff’s above mentioned blogpost he also goes on to say that “public is the new default”.  I like how he says that we should start with the idea that everything we do is public and work backwards from there. If I know everything about me is out there, what do I want to keep safe and how will I protect it? It is different for everyone. I know some people that aren’t on Facebook because they don’t want their lives documented and shared with everyone, then there are people who use Instagram or blogs as a way to make money. There are apps and Moments on Facebook that will allow you to send private photos to a group of people. This may be the right choice for some people. Again, it comes back to what do you want to get out of it and how open are you.  

The article When Data Gets Creepy, lived up to its title and made me a little paranoid when I read it. It had the feeling of scare tactics stating, “An interesting side-effect of public data being indexed and searchable is that you only have to be sloppy once, for your privacy to be compromised.” and warning readers that “ your tweets are public property”. I knew all this and I try to use discretion, but couldn’t help to double guess myself as I read.

Although this week’s topic is personal privacy, I had to think about my students’ privacy.  When I share my professional life on Twitter sometimes there is a picture along with the caption, and before I post I have to check make sure that their parents have signed the agreement to share their child’s image. Does your school have an agreement for parents to sign?  How does your school manage their students privacy? I would love to hear feedback and suggestions.

We need space mentally to play and experiment without the threat of judgement in order to grow into people who are internally free. –From Online Privacy: How Did We Get Here?

Last week reading through other COETAILers blogposts I kept thinking and even made a comment about teaching students empathy and forgiveness.  Even with educating our students about digital footprints, privacy, etc they will make mistakes. We need to teach them how to bounce back from mistakes or oversharing and teach them how to be less judgemental, have a little grace for others, and to help their peers move on after an incident.

Are Digital Footprints the New Sexual Education?

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I googled myself to see my digital footprint.

 “Scare tactics…are not only ineffective at changing student behaviors (Online Safety and Technology Working Group, 2010), but they also prevent students from seeing digital footprints as potential tools for learning, finding like-minded peers, and building reputations as thoughtful contributors to meaningful digital conversations.” This guy is exactly right, instead of teaching students to be afraid of their footprints, we should teach them to form authentic footprints. We should have learned from teaching sexual education, avoidance and scaring students doesn’t work. 

Our education system has scared students into digital footprint phobia. I’ll be the first to admit I was in the wrong, but now I have seen the light. In the past when I discussed digital footprints with my students I focused more on the negatives than the positives.  Be careful what you post. You never know who is looking.  Watch out for stalkers. Etc. Etc. Etc. Could this be because as a society we focus more on the negative news than the positive news? We are inundated with stories of online predators or people losing their jobs because of a stupid twitter or Facebook post.  What we don’t hear about is the 68% of candidates that were hired because of their digital footprint. In addition, the article Footprints in the Digital Age points out that “Publishing content online not only begins the process of becoming “Googleable,” it also makes us findable by others who share our passions or interests.” It all goes back to connectivism. We should teach students how to do what we are doing as well, figuring out as Jeff said in the intro to Course 2 video  “a system to make sense of the chaos.”

Social Network Screening

This week I also learned about my digital shadow. Of course I always noticed that the outfit I looked at online seemed to follow me around or when Netflix suggests things I would like based on my last binge watching session, but I didn’t know there was an actual term for it.  I’m honestly not sure how I feel about this.  The parts of my shadow I see (Amazon suggestions, etc) make my life more convenient, but have the parts I don’t see (bank records, purchase history, etc) exposed is a little frightening. In terms of schools, it is imperative that they mirror business IT departments.  “As people’s digital footprints continue growing, so too will the responsibility of organizations for the privacy, protection, availability and reliability of that information. The burden is on IT departments within organizations to address the risks and compliance rules around information misuse, data leakage and safeguarding against security breaches.”( ) Student medical records, parents’ tuition payments, and so on need to be protected to make schools safe havens. The digital shadows fly over my head, and I may seem naive in saying this, but I am sticking with the theory ignorance is bliss.

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Can you tell I’ve been looking for finger paint and my son’s next year’s Halloween costumes lately?

Another thing I found interesting and kept asking myself was, as an educator should we have digital footprints? After reading a fellow COETAILER’s Top 5 reasons educators must have a digital footprint I went to Twitter to ask some of my PLN the reasons they have a digital footprint and the resounding reason why was to model for their students. For me this is one of the top reasons I have a presence online, like Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Who you are speaks too loudly, I can’t hear what you are saying”.  I have to walk the talk and by doing so it also led to another reason for creating a digital footprint. We need to model what to do, not scare students with what not to do.

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While modeling responsible digital citizenship is great I didn’t start because of that, my primary reason I started was to learn from other educators. A few years ago I felt like I was in a teaching slump and didn’t feel like I was growing in my profession. I read books and implemented new strategies, but I felt like I was on an island. So  I began lurking on Twitter and learning from the safety of behind my screen.  Then I became a little braver and began to post.  I was nervous and didn’t want to put myself out there, but then I realized that in order to get something I have to give something.

I think having an online presence helps in the job search.  Innovative schools want educators that are running to push the boundaries in education, not educators that are tiptoeing around in fear of making a footprint. If a school doesn’t want to hire me because I tweet about my students’ learning or pose questions for other educators I’m okay with that.  I want to be at a school that values intrinsic learning and connectivism.  

Another question I kept pondering all week was what is the distribution of my digital footprint.  Last month I wrote about my voice in social media, and this is along the same lines. I primarily only tweet about education, and use Instagram and Facebook for personal tweets.  Does that enhance or degrade my digital footprint for recruiters?  I mainly do this because of function–almost all of the people I follow on Twitter are educators and this is where I go to learn. However, would I learn more and expand my educational footprint if I posted on all social media fronts?