The study of Digital Citizenship in schools has made me realise that Digital Citizenship (DC) is so much more than being mindful of how to use digital technologies in a responsible manner. Digital Citizenship applies to the whole Digital Learning Environment (DLE). Many teachers think that they have an effective DLE because they are using digital technologies. I had not previously considered the influences and issues that affect the implementation of an effective DLE.
The ability to read, write, interact and share across a range of platforms, tools and media (O’Connell, 2012; Stripling, 2010) is a digital citizenship concept necessary to operate in a DLE. This involves a change in emphasis towards participation, creating and sharing which we, as a school are still transitioning toward.
Whilst familiar with the idea of using technologies in learning, particularly in terms of, blogs and wikis, and social media such as Facebook and Skype, I had not afforded too much consideration to other social media such as Twitter. An enhanced understanding of how these tools can be used in developing ones Personal Learning Network (PLN) has subsequently developed. This has resulted in an increased awareness of how tapping into social network habits can be integrated into learning opportunities both for me and my students. I had worked on a wiki before but not in such a collaborative way as required for Assignment 1.
O’Connell (2012) argues that TLs must make use of personal learning environments, PLNs, personal web management tools, cloud computing and content curation – all of which relate to DC and building DLEs. Modelling and leading DC sits well within the role of a Teacher-Librarian (TL). The many concepts related to DC make a great argument for TLs in school having a more defined role, especially in those that currently have a part-time TL involved in traditional roles and a class teacher who has responsibility of being an eLearning teacher with limited release time.
Teacher librarians are uniquely placed to support digital literacy with their skills organising, evaluating and aggregating content to produce a focused group of resources for a specific audience (Valenza, 2012). My exposure to the social bookmarking tool Diigo allowed me to understand how this tool could be used to share resources. Even though at times the pace of new information was alarming it made me open to the use of it in the future.
Many of my peers are discouraged from using social media or leaving a digital footprint due to their high exposure as teachers and how it would affect their career, as well as the students they teacher. Nielsen (2011) advised me that a lack of a digital footprint or a small digital footprint could be viewed in a negative light. This subject has given me many strategies as to how to manage this.
In order for TLs to be central to setting up or developing an effective DLE it is important for school principals and executive staff to genuinely familiarise themselves with the true role of TLs. Many schools have cut back the employment of TLs and have eLearning reference teachers who have the responsibility of what a TL should have. Many of these teachers might have a sound technological skills yet have limited understanding of how to use these skills for 21st Century learning.
As educators we can help students integrate their own use of technology in their lives, instead of separating the school from the rest of the world. Such integration presents us with opportunities for discussion and what Richardson (2008) refers to as real teachable moments.
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