Major project thoughts

When working on my major project II section ,  I am considering many factors when developing my targets for my major project. Bare with me as I organize my thought process alongside the ideas for my project.

working hard

Image taken from Pixabay

Description and analysis of setting

Through my leadership I would like to influence 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.

I am employed with Regina Public Schools and I am currently teaching at a secondary high school called Campbell Collegiate, which is a large high school in our School Division. There are approximately over 1600 students who attend the high school with roughly over 90 teaching staff members.  At this building I teach in the areas of French Immersion and Spanish. Part of my duties for the past three years have been a Core leader. In this position I am responsible for creating and leading in professional development, I responsible for the communication between my administrators and my core members.  I am responsible to support my core members when it comes to assessment and in regards to our School Division’s strategic plan for student achievement. My School Division has approximately over 23 000 students from kindergarten to grade 12.

SWOT analysis (before the change)

swot

Image taken from Pixabay

Strengths

Most students have access to a digital device of some kind may it be in form of a cell phone and or a tablet. Cell phones and digital devices are in the classroom and they are not going away anytime soon.  Many school building in our School Division have been banning cell phones and unfortunately this has been a “band-aid fix” when it comes to regulating cell phone use. Teaching and educating students about DC is the right answer for the reason that it 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 of 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.

Weaknesses

Students can be at times disconnected from classroom learning and can become distracted with their cell phones. For example, they are sexting, sending inappropriate messages to classmates and bullying classmates. Students 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.

Opportunities

There is an opportunity to teach students about leaving a positive digital footprint. For example making them aware of 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 and analyzing social posts before posting them. Teaching about 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. Educators can School Divisions can teach about the positives of proper digital footprints and the negatives of sending inappropriate messages, images, cyber-bullying, and plagiarism.

Threats

There is a threat of the security of our students, time and support from fellow teaching staff members and students. Not enough money for PD from School Division 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.

Consideration of side effects

Yong Zao’s article had a great quote when he stated that  “educational research has typically focused exclusively on the benefits, intended effects of products, programs, policies, and practices, as if there were no adverse side effects. But side effects exist the same way in education as in medicine. For many reasons, studying and reporting side effects simultaneously as has been mandated for medical products is not common in education.”

There are many side effects as Kirsten mentioned in Unit 3 when decisions are being made for educational technology and these effects will either have positive or negative effects on our students, teachers and communities. 

There are also  4 jurisdictional levels that all have a part to play around educational technology such as the school level, division / alliance level, provincial level and the international level.   All levels have different roles to play from the school division to the Ministry level which also can have positive and negative impacts on students, teacher and the community members. 

Side effects can arise from the tensions that take place. For example if I want to adapt the DC policy and demand more PD on ed tech for teachers how can I ask my school division to provide money and time for teacher professional development?  We have a great program for our students called Media-smarts which is available to all teachers through our School Board website to incorporate. Again how can my School Board give time to teachers to review and learn from this document? Can our School Board hire teacher tech experts to support teachers and students? Can they be given time to go into the schools and classrooms to support teachers? Can we create a sub group of tech teachers and draft a proposal to our School Board and to the Ministry of Education to support this initiative that seems to have gone dormant due to budget cuts? 

Furthermore there are side effects of time, of limited resources, of educational outcomes that at times may be contradictory.  Also I am aware that varied technology may work differently for different learners in varied contexts.

There is new technology that is coming out daily at a rapid pace. There are also policies from the School Division and the Ministry level that are being pushed out without proper PD for teachers and students. And in reality, not all classrooms in my school division are fully equipped to fit these new ways of teaching.

No matter what, when School Divisions or the Ministry make decisions about policies and procedures, the question must always be asked…what are the side effects? There are always going to be side effects from any decision that is made.

Consideration of varied stakeholders

student

Image taken from Pixabay

Due to the budget cuts in our Education programming in Saskatchewan there would be impact on stakeholders. Less money would be available for other areas in the education areas.  Less resources and money would be distributed to building maintenance in the school buildings, to student transportation, to staffing and to other required professional development for staff which in the end would impact communities, students and staff.  Would the Ministry allocate more more money to DC training and resources as they stated requested in their document?

Proposal

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 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.  

Furthermore, I would form a teacher tech committee and form a proposal to our Ministry and to our School Board requesting sufficient supports to implement the adapted policy. Roles and supports have disappeared and I would like to see supports created to support the Ministry’s and School Board’s policy on DC. Digital Citizenship needs to be made a priority and supports are needed to support students in a digital world as well as to support student achievement. To make Digital Citizenship a priority again, this policy needs to be pushed into practice by sending a proposal to Ministry and School Board to adapt new DC policy, proposal for more money to support DC initiatives such as PD for students and teachers, resources on line and paper format and the proposal to create  tech lead teachers in the school systems to support teachers along the process.

Rationale

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.

Attention to 4 jurisdictional levels discussed in the course

There are four jurisdictions that will have an impact on my proposal. The School level, Division and Alliance level, Provincial and International level.

The School level has been mainly focused on Student Achievement and due to budget cuts roles to support educational technology have been taken away gradually.  

When looking at the Provincial level views on Educational Technology, there seems to be a disconnect between the Provincial Ministry’s pronouncements and what is truly going on in today’s schools. The Ministry sets many expectations though they also do not give permission for some of these expectations. When I say permission, I mean money. We cannot be permitted to access technology because we do not have the supports in place for PD nor do our students always have access to technology. They state on the document that “Educators and administrators are fluent in using and applying technology to enrich and enhance student learning and their own learning and professional growth. This is not true as not all educators are fluent in using and applying technology. Without proper professional development or ed tech coaches this is difficult to ensure.

The outcomes and strategies that the Ministry stated have fallen to the wayside when it comes to fostering digital fluency (DF) within teaching and learning (TL).Not all teachers are digitally fluent and do require PD to support this. Not all educators and students understand how to be safe online. Furthermore, I have seen positives from the technology-supported learning environments (TSL) to support student interest in varied subject areas and varied learning needs with Saskatoon Catholic.

There is a disconnect found between the STF  and the Ministry.  When it comes to educational technology the STF  is mainly focused on Social justice, Inclusion and Equity. Unfortunately, not all students have access to a technology device and not all school building have equitable access to technology. There also remains systemic barriers that have some negative impacts on education and its learners. Social inclusion is not always happening in the classroom.

In the Digital Citizenship Education in Saskatchewan Schools document  in states that “both students and educators need to be able to use technology safely and effectively to communicate and collaborate in a global society.” (Preface)  It is clear, gives many ideas to support School Divisions, teachers and students. It is a document that was made in collaboration with the Ministry and a group of ed teach educators from school divisions and the University of Regina. This made sense to me since educators need to understand what needs to be done to support DC in the schools. And since the Ministry was involved in this process there is no reason why they would not allocate more funding to DC.

Integration with personal leadership style

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As a leader, I am constantly dealing with how the school, the students, the community, the School Division, the Ministry interact. All these groups play an important part when it comes to the role of educational technology. The role I play as a leader have a huge impact on everyone that I work with and work alongside.

As and educational leader I am reminded that it is important to be critical. Being non critical in my own leadership is also being an agent of the existing powers. I know that myself and other teaching colleagues are hard working and doing what is best for our students and at times are being honest with our students and teaching then what they truly need to know not just by what we are told to teach. It is important to teach our students to become more independent and to question things being taught.

As an education leader it’s not about being a conformist, it’s about being informed, not having tunnel vision, making sure that all learners are heard / supported and creating true positive relationships. This work will not happen overnight. It is something that needs to be worked on daily and consistently.

Critical theory analysis

As an educational leader it is becoming more and more obvious that schools are being used as agents for the maintenance of existing unjust power structures in society.

The current state of our education system, the leadership in our school buildings and Edtech education are easily woven together to sustain and to produce unjust inequalities in our schools today.  We are teaching students that in order to become successful they must be compliant in the classroom and in the school building. Our school buildings create factory model systems that are standing in the way of progressing EdTech leadership.

There is the asymmetry of power, a power that will always sustain itself, protect itself and of course reproduce itself.  Our education system is being used as an agent of the powerful to continue to reproduce and maintain its power. Our own Saskatchewan government who continues to slash funding for our schools, is a power system that sustains, protects and reproduces. It uses its own teachers and students as agents of evil where change does not happen for the better for our students and their education.

As John Taylor Gatto discussed in his You Tube video, our school systems are teaching our students to be conformists where we are teaching them to be uncritical of what they are truly learning. It is very important to teach our students to become critical learners and thinkers.

I am still trying to consider more of the process and presentation factors in developing my targets for my major project. I am seeking advice from my classmates when I ask: What does success look like for the format of your major project?

Thanks everyone for reading all my thoughts and ideas for my major project! 

Krista

 

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