Monday, June 21, 2010

New National Technology Standards for Educators

Upon looking at the National Education Technology Standards and Performance Indicators for Teachers I found, like many of today's educators, that I am already doing quite a few of these standards.  However, there are some that I most certainly am not doing.  Interestingly enough, the one's that I seem to resist doing are the one's that I struggle with mentally and not because of a lack of skill.  For example the following two sub sections of Standard three:

3. Model Digital-Age Work and Learning
Teachers exhibit knowledge, skills, and work processes representative of an innovative professional in a global and digital society. Teachers:

b. collaborate with students, peers, parents, and community members using digital tools and resources to support student success and innovation
c. communicate relevant information and ideas effectively to students, parents, and peers using a variety of digital-age media and formats

My struggle lies in trying to figure out how to add this to my list of things to do.  Most of the others center around utilizing technology within the content area.  These require me to add on to an already full workload.  While I completely agree that they are useful, I just can't imagine how I would find time to communicate in a variety of modes.  Right now we are required to call parents, not just email, parents if a student fall below a C-.  I also have used a weekly email format, which takes time when teaching 3 different classes a trimester.  Now adding on web pages, blogging, twittering, and/or a Facebook page (or another format) makes me wonder where I am getting this extra time.  While I know it only takes less than five minutes  to Twitter or Facebook this time adds up over the course of a trimester.  I feel that I have a mental block where this standard is concerned.  What I need to make this mental shift happen is for someone to show me how make this happen in a timely manner, without adding to my already full plate. 

The other standard that I am struggling with is to design and develop digital-age learning experiences.  Not because I don't want students to have the opportunity or because I lack the creativity or time, but because of the lack of computer availability that my students face.  During trimester two, I was hoping to have my multcultural literature classes create a wiki.  However, almost 75% of my students did not have access to a computer at home or the internet and finding open computer lab time on a weekly basis was extremely difficult, because of 10th grade research paper and other classes also needing computers.  Perhaps, I need to just write a grant and turn my classroom into a my own personal computer lab ... maybe that isn't such a bad idea.  I wouldn't have to have 35 computers, but five to ten would allow students to rotate stations of learning with their wiki and blogs as one of the stations ... I must ponder this more. 

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Building a Positive and Purposeful Digital Footprint

On Friday, I was a little shell shocked to find out all the ways that I leave a digital imprint without being entirely aware of the path I was leaving. Seeing as I had already Googled myself, I knew that I did not have a negative footprint. Heck, I even gave my research writing students a paper on how negative use of the internet and SNS (social networking sites) can impact their future. However, the one part I left out when teaching them or myself, is how a digital footprint can help them land that job or get into that university. So tonight I was looking at articles on building positive digital footprints.

The article Managing Your Digital Footprint discusses not only how to monitor your activities online by searching multiple search engines and using a variety of techniques (such as using one's address, phone number, email alias, etc) but also how to build a positive footsteps to help your career. This article suggests, building a professional web page, use forums such as to post information about yourself and your qualifications, post on industry web sites about your area of expertise, and practice discretion when blogging or posting on forums. The first three had never occurred to me. It almost makes formal resumes obsolete. I wonder how much longer companies will accept paper copies of a resume and job application. If these are the opportunities out there, students need to be made aware of this in high school in order to make sure they are given a level playing field. The last one, practicing discretion, however, is one that many people already practice before they send an email, yet seem to forget when posting on websites, blogs, and forums.

How to Build Your Digital Footprint in 8 Easy Steps was a blog I read that actually seemed a bit more practical. In his blog, Mitch Joel starts at the very beginning with having a strategy before foraying into the digital world. The next step talks about finding the right forum. The best forum is not always Facebook or Twitter. Joel talks about playing to your strengths. If your writing style is better as a blogger don't use Twitter. He also says that the channel you choose must match your strategy. Like the previous article, Joel suggests doing a digital dig into your personal digital footprint. The next step is to follow the leaders of your industry, whether it is a blog, podcast, video on youtube, etc. This should then be followed by adding your thoughts, your voice. This can be done by commenting on postings or as a contributor on industry sites. Step 6 should be to create your own platform for your voice in your own channel. The next step can be the most overwhelming ... stay aware. Keep up with the many different channels ... the old ones and the new ones. Lastly Joel states it is important to have fun.

Personally, I liked the 8 Easy Steps blog because it was more detailed for the novice. Besides how can you not like something that ends with "have fun". These are the tools we need to be teaching to high school students. While we can provide the dire warnings, it is crucial that we give them tools to build positive digital footprints that will open doors for them.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Building Swipe Cards, TiVo, Credit Cards, Star Trib Online ... Oh My

I started off looking up digital footprint through the high school's library (something tells me someone has a time stamp and my IP address saying what time I used the database ... but of course I wouldn't have thought of it had I not given up on the databases). However, I didn't think reading an article about the new crime sleuths using digital footprints to solve a murder was quite what I was supposed to be researching (don't worry I bookmarked it for perusal later ... what can I say it sounded fascinating). Alas I digress. So I went to the old standby, Google, in between carrying on a Facebook conversation with another teacher about a book. As I quickly scanned my options and the fourth one down the list caught my attention. While it isn't an article, it was an interactive activity that allowed you to examine how we leave digital footprints with our everyday activities. So of course I quickly clicked on it and was astounded. And here I thought, I was pretty aware of the ways we are tracked. I was wrong.

Koppel on Discovery: Your Digital Footprint did not talk about what we would find if we googled ourselves, but it showed the path we leave behind that allow others to track us (no wonder sleuths are using it to solve crimes). I estimate that by 6:15 a.m. on a school day, I have already begun to be tracked for the day. Interesting enough the first time I walked through the choices I only scored a 27, which is a moderate trail. It starts off with how you get your news, to how you get to work, to going through toll booths (ok we have a decided lack of tollbooths in MN, but then I thought about when I wait at a light. Some of the stop lights record traffic) to how I go into the school building (swipe my card of course, heaven forbid I take the long way to my classroom and get some exercise)to filling up with gas, going out to eat, watching TiVo, etc.

Of course then I thought about the 27 being moderate. To me that doesn't feel moderate at all, so what determines moderate and what exactly does moderate mean. Is it because one option I picked didn't allow someone to track my movements. The only reason I picked that is because none of the other options fit. I probably wouldn't have straightened my desk, but would have went online to find something for class, or created a worksheet, test, PowerPoint or some other lesson for class. (time stamped when I save it). I so knew that businesses asked for our phone numbers or zip codes to collect data, but to some extent, I never realized my role or how all this information was being collected about me. Or maybe I didn't care to know. The whole ignorance is bliss quote playing out.

My brain is on overload thinking about this so Part II will have to wait until tomorrow.