The journey is more important than the destination

17 Apr

As I wrap up this semester, and my major project for EC&I 832, the quote “the journey is more important than the destination” comes to mind.

The journey is more important than the destination because there is so much more in between.

via Flickr

When starting this project, I remember emailing Alec (sorry!!) multiple times to clarify if I was “on the right track.” I was so concerned with what my final “product” would be. He told me to focus less on that, but rather the process of it, and of course, he was right!

I started off with a more jaded view of Digital Health & Wellness. Technology addiction, narcissism, distraction, depression, anxiety, the need for instant gratification… how are students ever going to navigate the digital world with all these ever increasing issues and problems working against them? The more the semester went on though, and the more I began to reflect on my own social media use, the more I started to think about all the power for good it has, and how that outweighs the negatives — if we’re taking the time to educate and teach proper use, etiquette and digital health in schools. (Plus the other elements of Digital Citizenship from Ribble!) Two terrible tradegys which have occured recently with a school shooting in Florida and the Humboldt broncos bus crash, have further solidified my faith in humanity and the positive power of social media. #marchforourlives and #humboldtstrong continue to amaze and inspire me everyday. This mindset change has been an important part of my journey, and continues to impact how I talk to students, colleagues, friends and family about positive, and ultimately healthy social media use each day.

As I spoke about in my Summary of Learning for the class, so much of what I did this semester, was viewed through a Digital Health and Wellness lens. Everything I was reading, tweeting, and thinking about came back to digital health. My own personal use of technology and social media has been affected, as I have learned so much along the way of how I can better balance and manage my time online. Check out a few of my favorite reads on that here, here, and here. All of these offer great ideas, and tips to better take charge of your digital health.

Some of the biggest ways I’d like to share that my learning has impacted my own digital health are:

  1. Turning off push notifications for Facebook and Instagram. Not having my phone light up with memes I’m getting tagged in (I seriously love memes, please keep tagging me in all dog memes), or comments or likes, really helps me feel less inclined to always be checking my phone and seeing if there is anything new. When I have time and choose to open Facebook or Instagram, I am either surprised, or not affected at all by any notifications. I so far have kept Twitter push notifications on, but I am getting close to turning them off. I get way too many “in case you missed so and so’s tweet, or have you seen..” and this is not at all what I want pushed to my phone. Unless I figure out how to turn off these specific random notifications that I don’t care about, push notifications for Twitter will also go off. I am not popular enough to turn off push notifications for Snapchat. If I get one Snapchat every week it is pretty exciting, so I’ll keep that excitement notification for now.
  2. No (or less) phone before bed. Yes, I use my phone as an alarm and charge it in my room… despite all the suggestions. I have made a conscious effort to read a book before bed. Not having screen time right before bed is something I am working really hard on. I find myself relentlessly scrolling for hours in bed, especially if I can’t fall asleep. I found myself doing a lot of tweeting at this time, but have tried to set some time aside to scroll Twitter earlier in the day when I am more alert and energized. There is too much good stuff on there! By reading an actual, paper book, I find I can get to sleep faster, and I also don’t waste hours of precious sleep time because I am creeping on 2 years worth of someone’s Instagram pics. I also love reading for enjoyment – rather than just scholarly articles, so this has been a great activity for me.
  3. Being more genuine and purposeful with my interactions. These come from the second article I mentioned above – seriously read it. I am trying to be very aware with what exactly I am doing online at a particular time – and if it is just mindlessly scrolling, there needs to be a max time I’m willing to spend on that. I also want to be the same person I am on social media as I am in “real life”. Yes I look best in photos of my good side with the Valencia filter, but what I am sharing should enhance my experience and my connection with others, not take away from it. I want to be the same caring friend out for coffee as I want to be commenting “Congratulations” on your exciting Facebook post. Being less caught up in showing my “perfect” life vs. my actual life has been a tricky mindset change, but one that is important.
  4. Being aware of my time online. Checking the battery usage setting on my iPhone that I shared with my students in my presentation, is a game changer. Why yes, I have spent way too much time on Instagram today.

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5. Listening to myself. If social media is making me feel negatively about myself because all I see is friends posting engagement pics (#foreveralone), or the Kardashians baby drama infiltrates every inch of what I’m seeing, or Trump’s just being Trump, then I may need to take a break. It doesn’t always need to be as drastic as completely denting the apps for a long time period, but it’s okay to go have a bath and leave your phone downstairs. Or to ask your friends to text you because you won’t be checking the Facebook group chat for a while. Self-care is huge, and I need to take care of myself digitally sometimes.

For quick reference, here are a list of the blogs and some of the learning I explored this semester regarding digital health & wellness.

My first post outlining how I thought my project would go.

Reflecting on my own social media use – not quitting for the wrong reasons, but staying for the right ones.

When my mindset began to shift to a more positive outlook on digital health, and how we need to help kids achieve a healthy digital life through use in school.

My process for creating my Digital Health & Wellness survey

My survey results summarized

A reflection on my Wellness Day presentation for grade 10 students on Digital Health

I have genuinely learned so much this semester through our course content and my own journey through my project. Thanks for a great semester Alec and EC&I 832 classmates! I look forward to EC&I 830 starting up in a few weeks!

 

 

 

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“I wish everyday was Wellness Day”

17 Apr

On March 28, 2018, F.W. Johnson Collegiate hosted their annual Wellness Day. Wellness Day is put on for all grade 10 students, and brings together various speakers, organizations, and agencies surrounding positive wellness. Students have a choice of different sessions to attend throughout their morning, culminating in a final keynote speaker for the entire group to end the day.

Pet therapy, art therapy, Planned Parenthood, The Schizophrenia Society, the SGI Safety Squad, Cyberbullying, nutrition, fitness, body image, Canadian Mental Health Association, plus more were some of the options for sessions and presenters our students could choose from. This year, I asked the organizing committee – the Bachelor of Science in Nursing 4th year practicum students and a teacher in our building, if I could present on Digital Wellness. As I am not currently teaching Wellness 10 right now, I thought this would be a great way to share with students what I have learned this semester in EC&I 832 and for my major project.

I ended up with two sessions of about 20 students each which I thought was fantastic! I wasn’t sure if students would sign up for it, or be drawn by some of the other “cooler”  sessions.

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When I was planning my presentation, I knew I wanted to make room for a lot of discussion with students and for their input, and I also wanted to focus on how we can positively improve our digital health, rather than just talk about all the ways technology and social media is harming young people much like them today. I am sure they hear it enough from parents – and from other teachers – how they are too addicted to their phones and can’t function without them.

I am not going to share my entire slideshow I used to guide my presentation, as I left a lot of the slides blank with just a question I posed, and then we discussed. Students were very engaged and willing to answer my questions as well as chat together. We started off by talking about how technology had changed over the years – much like Alec did in our first EC&I 832 class. I had them guess what technology was being talked about in a negative manner – they had no clue what a “walk-man” was!

We then got into the social media they use, and why it is great, because it really is great in a lot of ways! Snapchat and Instagram were the most used – apparently Facebook is “old news” and Twitter is only for old people. Snapchat and Instagram gave them a way to connect with friends, and share what they are doing.

We also discussed potential problems they saw with this technology. Cyberbullying, body image issues, addiction, distracted in school, all came up as issues. We also talked about what physical and psychological effects technology and social media can have. Negatively affecting sleep, feeling depressed, feeling anxious, being obsessed with the perfect filter, always comparing yourself to others, and eye problems were all effects they identified easily.

I tried to make the presentation as fun as possible – and brought it back to myself as much as I could.  I thought it was important for them to realize social media and technology addiction isn’t just a teenager thing, and that the more adults open up and discuss, can help students do the same. These are a few of the slides I used to talk about issues like “self-itis” and no mobile phone phobia or nomophobia.

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Yes… those are OG selfies of me on the right…

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Thanks to my classmate Amy for sharing about nomophobia and her project, which inspired me to incorporate it in mine! Students did a nomophobia questionnaire from a study, to also see where they stacked up in terms of being without their phone. This generated a lot of great discussion about how we feel when we don’t have our phones.

Body image issues, FOMO (fear of missing out) and distraction were also topics I touched on. I also had students reflect on their own social media use, using this activity from Common Sense Media. In this, I also shared my own reflection of my social media use.

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The last bit of my presentation (I was feeling rushed — to much to talk about!!), focused on ways we can combat issues with technology and social media negatively affecting us or becoming addicted.  One of the first things is to think about how much time we are spending on our phone – and what exactly that time is spent doing. On iPhones there is a setting you can check to see how much of your battery is going to what. This was a new learning for many students (and myself!). We spent some time checking and being amazed how many hours they were spending on apps. Hours and hours on Snapchat, seriously.

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Choosing who to follow, or unfollowing for that matter, turning off push notifications, restricting times on phone (not at meal times, driving, etc), being genuine and making connections with those around you were all things we discussed. Many of them had friends on Snapchat or Instagram that they liked things of, but didn’t actually ever talk to them at school if they were to see them.

Taking a break, deleting apps for a time period or moving apps off your home screen were more ideas. Sleeping also was a hot topic – reading before bed, charging your phone in a different room, and no screen time an hour before bed were also ideas students thought of.

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I wanted to give students a chance to do my survey, but unfortunately, we just ran out of time!! (In both sessions). We ended talking about a small goal we could set for ourselves to improve our digital health.

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Overall, I am very happy with how things went, and loved sharing what I learned with students and that we were able to engage in genuine discussion regarding this very relevant issue to their overall wellness.

 

 

Survey says…

17 Apr

One of the tasks I wanted to accomplish with my major project was creating a survey on Digital Health & Wellness to put out to my EC&I 832 classmates, twitter followers and students. View the survey here, and my blog post on how I chose what to ask here.

**Also must express my frustration with posting this — it would not let me post with the cropped versions of the screenshots!! So I am sorry, it does not look as pretty!!**

I am not going to lie, I am disappointed with the response I got. I only ended up getting 27 responses, almost all of which were adults between 20-50. I had originally planned to make the survey part of my presentation for Wellness day for my students, however, we ran out of time in both of my sessions due to great discussion, which I was totally okay with! In reflecting, I could have made my survey a bit shorter, as that may have been a deterrent for those completing it.

Although the data is not from a substantial sample, so please keep that in mind, I would like to share some of the findings.

First off here is the ages of my respondents.

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I was surprised first of all that only 67% of respondents used Facebook. I thought more would have Facebook.

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The next thing that surprised me was how many people look at their phone when they first wake up and when they go to bed. I thought I was one of the only crazy ones!!

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In terms of screen time affecting sleep, 1 was not at all, to 5 which was most definitely. Again, with all the information circulating about blue light and screen time affecting sleep, it seems that most people weren’t overly concerned with their screen time affecting their sleep.

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Related to sleeping, 78% use their phone as an alarm clock, so it is not surprising that many keep their phone  beside their bed when they sleep. Charging your phone in another room at night, is a popular tip I have seen come up in many places throughout my journey on this topic. Hard to charge your phone in another room when it is your alarm clock…. myself included in this problem!

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Another question I asked related to some ways we can hope to achieve more technology balance related to push notifications. I was happy to see that a good chunk of people are not allowing push notifications on all their apps. Turning off push notifications for Instagram and Facebook have been awesome for myself personally.

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Again, with 1 being not at all, and 5 being most definitely. Many respondents are feeling distracted by their phones and social media. Not surprising.One of the open ended questions I asked was regarding content on social media that made respondents feeling positively, and subsequently, negatively about themselves.

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I really enjoyed reading the positives people get from social media – many of which I feel the same about.  It is also important to to consider the things that made people feel negative about themselves. Is there a way to actually have social media without these things?

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I asked a question relating to deleting posts if you didn’t get enough likes, which was definitely more catered to students. I was happy to see this didn’t seem like a stress for adults, but I do worry about the pressure to get likes that young people on social media feel. I also asked questions on how social media affects stress and anxiety level, and both had quite low level responses. Again, a happy surprise, but I am not so sure this would be the same for the younger generation I currently teach.

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Not a surprise to me again, was the number of people who have experienced cyber-bullying online. I only fear this number would be higher with students again.

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Another idea I have explored throughout this semester towards better digital health is taking a technology break. 59% of my respondents have taken a break, this is also higher than I would have thought.

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This seemed to be effective for most that answered.

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I also asked about overall digital wellness, with 1 being very unwell, to 5 being very well. Again, I was very pleasantly surprised how well respondents felt they were. I again wonder and worry about our young people.

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Although respondents feel quite digitally well, at the same time, they do feel moderately addicted to their social media though. Interesting!

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Lastly, I asked what issues (they could click as many as they wanted) related to digital health were most concerning for themselves personally, as well as society as a whole. The charts are hard to read, so just to summarize the top responses.

Personal concerns – Digital distraction (59%), technology addiction (48%), feelings of depression/increased anxiety/stress (33%) and need for instant gratification (26%) were the top answers.

Societal concerns – Technology addiction (78%), cyber bullying (74%), digital distraction (74%), need for instant gratification (70%), narcissistic behaviors (56%), loss of social skills (52%) and feelings of depression/increased anxiety/stress (48%).

Again, I wish I could  have got responses from more people and younger aged students, but I feel very positive about the digital health of my respondents!

 

 

 

Summary of Learning

10 Apr

Here is my summary of learning for EC&I 832!

 

 

More Media Needed

24 Mar

This week we are asked to blog about what an average day looks like for us in terms of reading and making sense of information, media, and the world around us. We are also asked to explore/reflect on our own personal strategies for analyzing and validating information.

I have to say this prompt has been one that I’ve struggled with. Dare I admit that my average day does not include reading a newspaper, watching television news, or even listening to the radio?

via GIPHY

I know, I know… I should be more concerned with being an informed citizen and with the happenings in the world around me. But to be honest, news media outlets have never captured my attention. I don’t usually listen to radio, I hardly ever watch TV (especially cable TV), and I had been fairly dormant on non-social media internet use. I’ve relied on staff room chatter with co-workers, conversations with friends, and Facebook largely for updating me on big news stories. Once I hear of something that interests, or concerns me, I do investigate on my own, to not only help me make more sense of the information, but also to confirm and legitimize what I have been told. Although I know it seems naive of me to wait for others to maybe spark a conversation or to share an article on Facebook, I don’t feel that I naively interpret, believe, or analyze information.

I use Facebook everyday for a variety of reasons, so as a site I visit multiple times a day, it is the place I most often see information being shared. I have recently began using Twitter daily again (thanks to this class!), so this is another avenue in which I am consuming media information most frequently. As I read this week, it is alarming to discover that fake news spreads faster and further on social media sites like Twitter, than any truth does. Soroush Vosoughi, who was one of the researchers in this MIT study of fake news, developed an algorithm for identifying facts and fiction in tweets. Whether the author was verified and the language used were important aspects – and when I think about my own personal strategies for deciphering fact from fiction, these are vital for me.

Often on Facebook, I see people sharing or liking posts for contests or to win giftcards that just don’t seem right. Sorry everyone, but I don’t think Costco is going to give you a giftcard just for sharing this post. When I look and see how many shares/comments these posts have, I often shake my head. If you actually look at the author of the post, you can easily see that it is not really a large corporation like Costco’s Facebook page. Although, for someone who is not media literate, this could definitely be one of many scams that could trick them.

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Image found HERE

A big downside to the amount of time I spend on getting information from Facebook or Twitter is that I get very frustrated with political posts, rants, comments, etc. There has obviously been a ton of controversy over politics and fake news – especially with Donald Trump and the U.S.A, and Justin Trudeau has even been a hot social media topic. Linking back to digital health and wellness – like I always do ;), these are the types of posts and things on social media that make my experience negative, whether it is what people are sharing or ignorantly commenting, so I do tend to try and ignore or avoid all political conversation on social media. This sometimes makes it difficult for me to stay up to date on political news, and can become overwhelming when I do want to find truth in this information.

Jocelyn and Jaimie shared some great information about fake news in their vlog. I especially liked the image they included about how to spot fake news. As I was reading/watching, I realized that these are all strategies I use myself.

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Image found HERE

I also learned about sites that can help you (and students) validate information such as: Snopes, Politifact, and FactCheck. I have never used these sites before, but I will definitely use these in the future if I am questioning if something is true or false.

Writing this post and reflecting on my intake of media has made me set a goal for myself moving forward. I want to expand beyond the ways I am currently reading information on a daily basis. Rather than just happening to come across something on Facebook or from my coworkers, I am wanting to seek out information. I have created a column on my Tweetdeck to follow the Regina Leaderpost, CBC, CTV news and Global news, to better inform me of what is happening immediately around me. (I wasn’t following any of these before). If you have any other suggestions for what media outlets I should follow that would be appreciated!

 

Well-being Literacy

19 Mar

 

This week we are asked to respond on what it means to be literate today? In considering what is means to be “fully” literate, right away I began thinking about the most obvious forms of literacy in terms of being able to read and write, and also the literacies I specifically teach every day;  physical literacy and numeracy (aka mathematical literacy). I have an understanding, and passion for these areas, but I had never really considered media literacy before. Thanks to my awesome classmates, and their vlogs this week, I now feel I have a better grasp of what digital and media literacy are, (sometimes used interchangeably – sometimes not – which can be a bit confusing), and how important they are in developing literate individuals.

In Dani’s vlog about media literacy she had this wonderful graphic from ResourcEd, which breaks down digital literacy, and she also talked about six deep learning skills from this site: collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, citizenship, character and communication.

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Image found HERE

Luke’s vlog was also very informative and he references an article from the Center for Media Literacy and explores 5 key questions that our students need to understand and be able to apply as critical consumers of media.

  1. Who created this message?
  2. What creative techniques are used to attract my attention?
  3. How might different people understand this message differently from me?
  4. What lifestyles, values, and points of view are represented in — or omitted from — this message?
  5. Why is this message being sent?              (Thoman & Jolls, 2004)

The author’s of the article Elizabeth Thoman and Tessa Jolls, reference a report created by the Partnership for 21st Century Learning Skills, and I couldn’t agree more!

“People need to know more than core subjects. They need to know how to use their knowledge and skills – by thinking critically, applying knowledge to new situations, analyzing information, comprehending new ideas, communicating, collaborating, solving problems, making decisions.. (they) need to become lifelong learners, updating their knowledge and skills continually and independently.”

(Partnership for 21st Century Skills. (2003). A Report and Mile Guide for 21st Century Skills)

Andrea Quijada’s TED talk on media literacy talked about the importance of being able to decode text and subtext presented to us in media, and the untold stories that exist.

 

I also really liked this article from Common Sense Education, which breaks down media literacy very succinctly, and they list how the following helps kids in terms of media literacy.

  • Learning to think critically
  • Become a smart consumer of products and information
  • Recognizing point of view
  • Create media responsibly
  • Identify the role of media in our culture
  • Understand the author’s goal

(Common Sense Education)

When I think about what it means for someone to be fully literate, I think it is important to consider one’s well-being. I think the interconnectedness of the various forms literacy takes on, is similar to the connection of the dimensions of wellness. If our physical well-being is suffering, it will ultimately have an effect on our mental well-being. We have to seek to balance our wellness wheel, and improve our well-being in every area for our wellness to be optimized. I think the same could be said for literacy. If one area of our literacy – say physical – is not developed, I do not think we are fully literate, nor is our overall literacy optimized. The connection between our physical health and our mental health is undeniable, and this affects how we are learning with and using our bodies and minds.

I like to think Well-being Literacy could be the all-encompassing word to describe what is means to be fully literate. Our bodies and minds optimized and balanced in all areas of literacy and wellness.

We need to teach kids to be saavy at interacting in all ways

19 Mar

This week, we have been asked to reflect upon what our role as teachers/school do we play in educating our students on digital citizenship. As others have blogged about, including Jana, and in reading Dennis Pierce,  I do agree with the need for Digital Citizenship to be weaved throughout the K-12 curriculum. Students need exposure early on, as they will be exposed to many technologies, social networks, and begin forming their digital identity from a young age. I worry though with this approach, that it will often be ‘left out’ due to time, or some teachers will put more or less emphasis on incorporating digital citizenship into their classrooms depending on their own personal comfort, understanding, and opinion. It needs to become a priority in education from our government, (which then will be a priority of school divisions), and supporting curriculum documents/updates will need to be made. There is already a great policy guide surrounding digital citizenship in education for Saskatchewan that I have referenced before, however I have never seen this document outside of this class, which leads me to believe it is not being used by schools.

I also believe we need to make it a priority to educate our educators on digital citizenship before we can put the responsibility on them. There are so many conflicting views towards using technology in our classrooms often to completely banning phones. I recently read this article shared by classmates on Twitter regarding a school in Saskatchewan that has a no cell phone policy in place that is working wonderful in the eyes of those teachers and students involved. In the short team, I do not doubt that student distraction is minimized, and thus interaction and attention is up. But in the long term, I think banning cellphones misses the mark hugely on preparing students for life in a connected world.

If we do not teach students to work through distractions, I do not know how they will manage distractions on their own. I personally feel we need to teach students appropriate use of their phones, and by completely banning them, we (our students) are stripped of this opportunity, and it is assumed our students will get this digital citizenship education elsewhere. Where elsewhere is, I am not sure. I compare teaching abstinence is the only way in terms of sex ed, instead of teaching appropriate behaviors and safe practices to prepare them for that aspect of life. Responding to a message, listening to music, or even checking an app while working independently is appropriate in my classroom. I have many students who work a significant amount of hours outside of school, and I do not think it is inappropriate for them to ask to step out and take a call, and deal with a situation in 2 minutes, and get back to work. I would say this is rather responsible. I know many teachers who would not be okay with this. I am not sure what would get everyone on the same page aside from specific policies or curriculum in place.

There is also different opinions on what is considered appropriate behavior regarding digital etiquette. Some people are completely offended by someone looking at their phone when they are say out for coffee, and supposed to be completely engaged in face-to-face conversation. For others, this isn’t rude at all, but rather no different than checking one’s watch might have been years ago. How these behaviors are interpreted is important to consider, and I think this plays into what I see as frustration from a lot of teachers, or just adults in general when interacting with kids. Our kids are so used to having these devices with them every moment, that checking your phone mid class, or mid conversation doesn’t feel inappropriate to them.

I think its important to not only realize ourselves, but to teach our kids that different behaviors regarding our digital etiquette can be viewed differently depending on our audience. I would compare this to being taught to only speak when spoken to by our elders. Not every elder holds this view, and you have to learn to interact appropriately in various settings. This is the same when it comes to digital citizenship. We have to teach our kids how this can vary – and will vary – from different workplaces, to individual classrooms, to social settings. On a first date? Checking your phone could be perceived as uninterested. Out for supper with your friends? Checking your phone in a break in conversation can be appropriate. It all depends! We need to teach kids to be saavy at interacting in all ways.

I personally would like to see a locally developed course on Digital Citizenship at the high school level. I think Digital Citizenship 30L would be a great chance for students to learn more about all 9 elements of digital citizenship, and reflect closer on their own personal use of technology, social media, and the continuation of developing their digital identities as they continue to post secondary, or the “real” world of work. Having students interact and connect to the community and beyond in positive contexts, would give them a greater understanding of the reach and impact of the online world, and the power of social media movements. It makes me think about how we are learning in EC&I 832! Blogging, vlogging, and exploring topics such as fake news, catfishing, cyberbullying, (and everything to come!) will undoubtedly build media literacy skills students will use for the rest of their lives.

Citizenship in general looks different now than it did before. The digital world is such a part of our kids interactions, friendships, and learning (academic and otherwise), so we must adapt how we are teaching students how to be good citizens in 2018 and beyond. Not to say that being a “good person” is different at the root of what that means, but the tree growing from that root is much different than it was 10, 20, or 30 years ago. I loved what Luke had said in his blog post about it being a community based approach, and ultimately character education. As Luke says “Teaching digital citizenship should, in essence, be an offshoot of  what teachers are already doing all day, every day, anyway:  teaching kids to be good humans.” (Braun, 2018)

It is important for parents to teach digital citizenship at home, but as educators we can’t count on that in the same way we can’t count on sex education or personal finance being taught at home. More and more traction is being gained to teach Personal Finance in schools – there is now a Personal Finance 30L offered in most schools in Regina – and I think the same can follow suit with Digital Citizenship. As much as a stand-alone course is a pipe dream, I think is is a perfect compliment to the digital citizenship teachers, schools, and ultimately communities need to incorporate, model, and build upon in every class, at every grade.