An aspect of educational technology at Regina Public Schools that I would like to influence through my leadership.
One aspect of educational technology in my school at Campbell Collegiate, a Regina Public High School that through my leadership I would like to influence, is the Digital Citizenship Policy. This policy currently exists with my school division, though it currently exists in a problematic way due to few initiatives and few supports in place to support teachers and students. I am invested in adapting this digital citizenship model on what it means to be a digital citizen in regard to cell phone usage in the classroom, the school building and in the outside world. Through my leadership, I would adapt (fine tune) the current policy from Regina Public Schools on responsible use of technology and the digital citizenship agreement for students. I would also pull from the DC Education in Saskatchewan guide by creating more resources for implementing the policy via info-graphics and videos on what it is to be a digital citizen.
A brief description of my current setting
I am currently employed with Regina Public Schools and I have been a teacher with this school division for the past 14 years. I am a Core Leader, french Immersion and Spanish teacher in the high school setting at Campbell Collegiate where we currently have over 1600 students and over 90 teaching staff members. I have seen the classroom change drastically in a positive but also in a negative way when it comes to the use of cell phone usage in the classroom setting for the past few years. I have seen issues with cyber-bullying, sexting, and students been drawn away from classroom work because they are consumed with their cell phones. Though on the hand I have seen students use their devices in a positive way that supports their educational learning as well as I have seen devices being used to support formative assessments practices with students.
A probing discussion of the current state of things
In 2013 I have saw my School Division embrace BYOD, the promotion of the responsible use of technology and digital citizenship. A digital citizenship adviser and consultant was hired at the board office to support this initiative. Furthermore, I witnessed the start of the promotion of what it is to be a digital citizen with teachers and students.
In 2015, the Government of Saskatchewan in consultation with educators, professors and technology education experts, published a policy planning guide for school divisions to implement Digital Citizenship Education for Kindergarten to grade 12. This policy planning guide was created in response to recommendations that were contained in the Saskatchewan Action Plan to Address Bullying and Cyber-bullying that was released in November of 2013.
Going back to the DC Education in Saskatchewan Schools policy guide, its main goal was to ensure that our students learn the knowledge and skills to help them develop appropriate and responsible behaviors online. It was also to support teachers by providing them with instructional and student resources that would encourage responsible and appropriate behaviors online. The working group (whom were educators all across Saskatchewan and Professors from the University of Regina (Dr. Alec Couros and Katia Hildebrandt) suggested that in order to support the appropriate and responsible online behavior for our students from Kindergarten to grade 12, that the Ministry of Education should provide school divisions with model digital citizenship policies and guidelines for implementation. It also encouraged the Ministry of Education to provide educators with professional development and instructional supports to support student digital citizenship.
The DC Education in Saskatchewan guide states, “supporting students at all grade levels and through all subjects to learn appropriate and responsible online behavior through the integration of digital citizenship instruction will help ensure that children and youth in the digital age become responsible and principled digital citizens, capable of building and maintaining a positive digital footprint, respecting intellectual property boundaries and protecting their privacy online. Digital citizenship education is not intended to be a stand-alone unit, course or lesson, rather it is best learned and understood when taught in context through supported online practice and real-life examples and experiences.” (P. 3)
Unfortunately digital citizenship is not happening in my school and from what I can see initiatives to support DC is not happening from my school division. Due to educational budget cuts from our Saskatchewan Government, digital citizenship initiatives became less critical for teaching in the classroom and our Edtech consultant’s title at the board office was fazed out. The “need” to to teach more about DC became less important in the schools these past few years and the digital divide in the schools has become a big debate. As Kirsten had mentioned during unit 3, there are many factors that intersect in technology leadership at the school level. There have and are currently many decisions that are being made and decision are also not being made about technology at the school level. Great ideas were created such as the DC education in Saskatchewan Schools policy guide and initiatives at school division and school level were made though it seems when it comes to Digital Citizenship it has been left on the sidelines at the school level. Our division website with Regina Public Schools has a link that supports DC though some links are still not functional. It’s as if, there is some missing links and supports due to budget cuts.
There are many conflicts and tensions that are taking place with the digital divide. In some schools, cell phones are banned to deal with issues of bullying and inappropriate use which to be honest is band aid solution…it is not the solution. Cell phones and electronic devices are not going away anytime soon. Electronic devices can be found from the school and from its own students. Devices can be found everywhere from the classroom, to school hallways, to the home. Unfortunately these conflicts have not been dealt with properly and they are not disappearing. They are usually dealt with in a short term manner hence why these conflicts are always recurring in the school building with the issues on bullying, sexting and what it truly means to be a digital citizen. There are also conflicts with time and resources that are needed for teachers with regards to DC. There is of course conflicts with teacher, parent, community push for or against technology in the school / classroom.
A brief SWOT analysis of the current situation
Below is a brief SWOT analysis of the current situation and the side effects that could arise from the change I propose:
Cell phones and digital devices are here and they are not going away anytime soon. Banning cell phones is not the answer. Teaching / educating students about DC is the right answer. Most students have access to a digital device of some kind may it be in form of a cell phone, tablet etc. Devices (if used properly) can be used for meaningful educational use. With the proper integration of Digital Citizenship with regards to cell phone usage, students will have an understanding what is appropriate and what is responsible use when they and we use personal technology such as cell phones. This will prevent cyber-bullying, inappropriate messaging and create social norms of what is appropriate when students use their digital devices. Furthermore this will break the digital divide when students are using technology properly with the use of proper digital citizenship.
When cell phones are used properly in the classroom, most educators will be able to use these platforms to expand student learning, tailor student learning experiences.
Students are at times disconnected from classroom learning and can become distracted with their cell phones, they are sexting, sending inappropriate messages to classmates and bullying classmates. Students do not know how to use technology properly. Furthermore, they are also involved in risky behaviors by participating in cyber bullying, not protecting their social media accounts which can make them vulnerable to online predators. They are not protecting their passwords where others could have access to personal information and they are also plagiarizing others work without citing properly. They are using digital platforms for photos but they could also use digital platforms for educational purposes.
Teaching students about leaving a positive digital footprint and using technology with purpose. The dangers of inappropriate messaging, sexting and bullying.Teaching about limiting personal pictures and posts. Teaching about safeguarding passwords and setting privacy settings on social platforms, using proper netiquette, awareness about online risky behaviors, analyzing social posts before posting the (what’s right and what’s wrong.) Logging off public computers properly, reporting disturbing online behavior and teaching about proper citing from online sources. Even though some students are digital savvy, they need to be taught about proper social norms for online behavior. Teach about the positives of proper digital footprint and the negatives of sending inappropriate messages, images, cyber-bullying, and plagiarism.
Time and support from fellow teaching staff members and students. Not enough PD to support teachers and staff. Teachers teaching DC about cell phones as stand alone unit when it should be taught in context with real life experiences and examples.
A rough proposal for changes you would like to implement
I would like to influence and adapt Regina Public Schools Digital Citizenship Policy. I want to create new initiatives and create supports in place to support teachers and students of Digital Citizenship when it comes to cell phone usage in and outside the classroom setting. I am invested in adapting the current digital citizenship model on what it means to be a digital citizen in regard to cell phone usage in the classroom, the school building and in the outside world. Through my leadership, I would adapt (fine tune) the current policy from Regina Public Schools on what responsible use of technology is and adapt the digital citizenship agreement for students. I would also pull from the DC Education in Saskatchewan guide by creating more resources for implementing the policy via info-graphics, images and videos on what it is to be a digital citizen.
A brief rationale for why you wish to embark on this change.
A brief rationale on why I wish to embark on this change is for the reason that I am invested in creating a digital citizenship model where our students are digital literate on all social platforms as well as on their daily usage of their own digital devices. Banning cell phones from schools or classrooms is only a temporary solution as it is not teaching our students how to properly use their electronics. Educating students on how to be be digital citizens with their devices will teach them how to use technology resources in a responsible, safe and educational ways. Leaving a positive digital footprint, being prudent with identity and online self image and also at the same time respecting others. It will also help them prepare for the next level of education.