Hey! Can you just look UP for a second?

Photo Credit: zenobia_joy Flickr via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: zenobia_joy Flickr via Compfight cc

If you haven’t heard those words before, I guarantee they’ve been running through the thoughts of your child, co-worker, friend, partner or cashier at the local store as they wait for you to take your eyes off of your screen.

Personal devices have become, for many people, a 24/7 companion and something without which we cannot function.  As much as I love my smartphone, I believe that there are times and places where technology does not belong.  I hope that, through this project, my group members and I will be able to create a blended learning course that can help us all to be better digital citizens. Now… where do we begin?

Even though I gained tremendous knowledge in EC&I 833, I still feel as though I’m nowhere near skilled enough in educational technology to develop an online course.  There are so many things to consider… so many modes of delivery… so many tools and apps at my disposal – it’s overwhelming, to say the least.  

But then I read what the experts say …

Tony Bates states in his text book, Teaching in a Digital Age,

“these forms of education, once considered somewhat esoteric and out of the mainstream of conventional education, are increasingly taking on greater significance and in some cases becoming mainstream themselves.”  

By “these”, he is referring to blended, online, flipped and hybrid learning environments (to name a few).  As a teacher, but, especially, as a technology teacher, I feel that I am falling short if I don’t incorporate some of these “newer forms” of teaching into my pedagogy.  As Rochelle states in her post, however, I don’t want to end up just “doing blended learning” for the sake of doing it.  It has to be authentic.

In order to successfully include technology in my classroom, I need to improve my knowledge about online, blended and hybrid learning environments.  I feel as though I’m still relying far too much on traditional teaching methods.  By the way, I loved Katherine’s post in which she admitted to using few “(*cough zero*)” simulations and not enough student collaboration activities in her classroom…. I am not alone!

Source: Personal Photo

Source: Personal Photo

 That being said, my experiences incorporating educational technology into my classroom last semester were very positive – for both the students and for me!  

This project is another (very steep) learning curve that I will climb – with the help of my instructors and classmates!  (The degree of ‘steepness’ became apparent to me when I read in a blog post by Kirsten – an instructional designer – that “defining blended has been hard”!)

Starting our Ascent

As Ashley stated in her post, she, Andrew, and I have decided to embark on this climb together. (I hope they don’t have to carry me for too much of this journey …   they are both more technologically inclined than me!   … as Andrew explains in his recent post – and, as I’ve witnessed at school – he is already quite well-versed at using ed tech in his teachings.)  We plan to create three modules based on a Government of Saskatchewan publication entitled Digital Citizenship Education in Saskatchewan Schools.  The esteemed authors of this 2015 document are none other than Alec Couros and Katia Hildebrandt.

One section in the Digital Citizenship Education in Saskatchewan Schools publication is the description of Ribble’s nine elements of digital citizenship.  These nine critical parts of digital citizenship are grouped into three categories:  Respect, Educate, and Protect.  As you can guess from the theme song for this post, I have chosen to develop a module for a topic within the first category of digital citizenship elements:  respect.

Aretha Franklin said it best, when she spelled it out for all of us …. R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Respect, the verb, is defined as to show regard or consideration for. (Source:  Dictionary.com).  It can also mean to hold in esteem or honor or to refrain from intruding upon or interfering with. (Source:  Dictionary.com)



Within the Regina Public School Division, “I respect” is one of the four shared values statements that helps to make up the Division’s mission statement.  In the Shared Values brochure, it is stated that ….

Respect is based upon acceptance and understanding of the similarities and differences among people. In an educational setting, respect is an essential component to ensure that all students reach their highest potential.

Although my own children are not yet cell phone users (besides when my three-year-old dumps my entire purse to find mine so she can do her ‘bwain work’  … ie. play Endless Alphabet), I have seen more than enough harm done by my high school students when they fail to show respect for themselves and for each other in this digital world.

Digital Etiquette is the specific topic that jumped out at me when I perused the “Respect” category of the Digital Citizenship Continuum that is included in the aforementioned Government of Saskatchewan publication.

The Continuum includes two overarching questions:

  1. Are students aware of others when they use technology?
  1. Do students realize how their use of technology affects others?

I believe that many, if not most, students nowadays will have trouble even comprehending these questions, as they’ve never lived a day of life when cell phones weren’t in existence.  Young people today might struggle with recognizing some of the perils of cell phone misuse because they do not know life without this (and other) technology.  There’s a Dean Brody song on country radio right now that sums it up perfectly:  [Source]

Teenage girl and her grandad

He takes her fishing but he feels bad

She can’t take her eyes off that Facebook page

But someday soon, who knows how long

She’ll look up from that phone and he’ll be gone

If effective, my module will reduce the number of times in our lives that we will feel less interesting, less important, and less valued than a sleek, handheld device.

Vague Details of our Preliminary Plans

Is that subtitle an oxymoron, or what?!?  I digress.  As high school teachers, Ashley, Andrew and I chose to focus on the “understandings” and “demonstrations of understanding” for grades ten through twelve.  To clarify, for each of Ribble’s nine elements of digital citizenship, Couros and Hildebrandt identify several things that students within each grade grouping should “understand” and should be able to “do”.

Given that I haven’t ever created an online course, I’m not yet able to envision my end product.  I know that I would like to include opportunities for student sharing, of not collaboration.  I’ll likely pass along some introductory content, either through a podcast or slide presentation.  In order to retain student interest, I would like to get them participating almost immediately – perhaps using padlet.com.   Formative assessment will occur using one of the fantastic apps that I learned about last year (Socrative or Quizziz) or the tool that I just heard about (Spiral).

A final project might involve having the students create a something using Powtoon or StoryboardThat about digital etiquette that could be shared with children younger grades.  (I’ve never used either of these tools, so this would be a good opportunity for me to learn about them!)

The next thing that Ashley, Andrew and I need to decide upon is whether or not our modules will include any face-to-face meetings.  This will certainly impact how I set up my module.  My preference would be to have asynchronous, online activities coupled with one or more synchronous sessions, perhaps using Zoom.  Collaboration and planning for the final project in my module might be a challenge, because, as I described above, I hoping to do more than simply have the students create something using Google Docs or Google Slides.  I may have to rethink this.  Thinking, thinking, and rethinking will be my motto as I delve into yet another unfamiliar galaxy within the ed tech universe!

3 thoughts on “Hey! Can you just look UP for a second?

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