After reading Michael Barber’s article on ‘How Could-and Should-Schooling Look in 2030’ I began to reflect on what the future might hold in my PYP classroom. My dream learning environment of the future is an open learning space with comfortable furniture filled with the latest technology. I will be able to enlighten my well-motivated, internationally minded students. However, from what I can remember these have been my dreams for some time.
I decided to compare my PYP classroom from 15 years ago with my vision for my future PYP classroom in 15 years time. When using Mary Beth Hertz’s levels of technology integration I can see that 15 years ago my technology integration was sparse. I would currently rank my classroom as between ‘comfortable and seamless’ but I wonder what the next 15 years will hold. What is beyond seamless?
I also reflected on how teacher use of technology may change in the future. Will the email epidemic continue to take up value time? Will university entrance exams become 100% digital thus releasing the pressure on handwriting expectations? I researched potential future technology use for the classroom including from ‘Co creation and the web of new things‘. I also attempted to keep my financial expectations realistic whilst considering how technology advancements can impact student learning in my classroom. Below is my infographic to demonstrate my ideas.
At what age should children manage their digital footprints?
Is there an appropriate age for children to be encouraged to consider their digital footprint? Should primary students be worried about their college applications and future employability? Who is responsible for ensuring a child has a positive digital footprint?
Image author’s own.
Ultimately, I believe it is the responsibility of both parents and the schools to educate children about Digital Citizenship. However, it is critical for both teachers and parents to learn how to manage their own online presence first, if they are to be able to effectively teach children about the positive and negative consequences of digital footprints. Lisa Nielsen discusses the importance of teachers firstly managing their own digital footprints in her blog:
“Teaching kids to manage their Digital Footprint really starts with the adults. Teachers can’t teach this effectively if they, themselves have not managed their own digital footprint.”
A few events this week have given me a chance to reflect on young children’s digital footprints and how concerned we should be about them. Firstly, my ten year old son was telling us about a school project he had worked on. When he searched our home town for a photograph he was surprised that his image came up on the beach. Even more surprising for him was his parents reaction to this (panic and intense questioning). Did it have your name? Why was it there? What else came up? Have you saved our photo’s somewhere? Every online parenting fear quickly went through our heads. After a bit of investigation, it turned out it that was a photo that we had submitted to ‘The Guardian’ as part of a ‘UK beaches after the storms‘ article. The storm at home subsided. Panicking parents were the only problem.
Image author’s own.
Another interesting discussion occurred in my Grade 2 class after we appeared in the national newspaper ‘The Hindu’ this week. My class were very concerned that my surname had been included in the article. We all know the rules; you don’t share your name. ‘It’s okay in the paper you can throw it away’ was one response. And another student pointed out that ‘If you are an adult it is okay’. Both were excellent observations and some interesting conversations followed. Yes, adults are responsible for themselves, and yes, when things are on the internet they are permanently accessible. What also felt important was that the students themselves had initiated this dialogue. This awareness and reflection about identify safety from such a young age is important in the understanding of a positive digital footprint.
Image author’s own.
I am fortunate to teach in a school that values Digital Citizenship. Our class blogs have links to age-appropriate Digital Citizenship lessons from Common Sense Media. The Information Literacy Teacher delivers the Common Sense Education programme to students at an age-appropriate level. Students as young as 6 learn what a digital footprint/trail is and that this can be helpful or hurtful.
Parents also have access to this information on each Class Blog.
Image author’s own.
We also have guidelines that outline how students’ images or work should be used. This helps to create an awareness of what is appropriate, with clear guidelines about what can and cannot be published. Within this document it also mentions the importance of representing students positively:
“we will not publish materials that may be considered objectionable or detrimental to the interests of any individual member of the Stonehill community or the school.”
The Common Sense Media resources that we have adopted at our school have many excellent resources for teachers to use. Below is one of the videos used to help explain to students what a digital footprint is, and why you should consider what you post online.
So to answer my initial questions, no, we do not need to panic a 5 year old about their college application or employability. However, teachers and parents should be aware of content they are publishing and the impact it may have when viewed by audiences with multiple perspectives, both now and in the future. A Grade 2 student should have an understanding of what their digital footprint is, and should be encouraged to reflect on their online presence. And lastly, I believe that teachers, administrators and parents are all responsible for ensuring that children have a positive online presence and that they help them develop an understanding of their digital footprint as soon as they are given access to the web.
What does your digital footprint look like? Were you online before you knew what a digital footprint was?