We have been back at school for a few weeks now and all the students have their re-imaged notebook computers back. The year 7 students have had their first “technology immersion days”, where they learnt the basics about their new tool and one of the software tools (photostory) that is available to them. Maybe it is now time to ask about the availability of some of the Web2.0 tools I used last year. This year a number of sites seem to be blocked.I don’t think there has been a reversal in the thinking on these tools. They probably just slipped through the net when the servers were up-graded (or some such- I prefer to belive this)! It is however, really irritating that I cannot get to and use these simple tools. I feel a bit like the students. Many students have been living in the high social, digital world over summer. They have been messaging, sending each other photos, using podcasts and vodcasts, sending each other information about all sorts of things and now they are back at school. At the moment they cannot use their phones, ipods, etc. and so. at the start of the year especially, feel isolated and shut away from a lot of what is important. Many had an interest in the information about the bushfires. As a teacher I had news feeds and twitter to get ready and up-to-date access to information, they did not. After a meeting and some long discussion, some teachers were allowed to experiment with facebook for the year 12 English students. Many of the more strident questions came for those who abviously have not taken the time to look at/experience this tool. Some concerns were valid and worth discussing but there was the impression of fear as well. As teachers, we need to understand atleast the basics of these common digital tools. In our schools, we must acknowledge their existence and help our students understand them. If we are to help them become responsible digital citizens, the ones who have power over the tools, not those that become it’s victims, we need to teach our students how to be safe and how to be responsible. I copied this quote from a longer post by Chris Lehman about some legislation in the US but the argument holds anywhere.
…the more we ban, prohibit, regulate and legislate, the less we teach. If we want students to learn how to manage their lives, we have to let them live them. Chris Lehman calling for action and using facebook
What do students really understand about the difgital media they immerse themselves in? From classes I have been going into, and some individual conversations, some know quite alot others know a bit and some understand almost nothing. We need to help them make decisions that may have an effect on their lives now and in the future.
Below is an interesting little video on how we all have a digital identity, whether we like it or not. Certainly makes you think.
What are you teaching students about their digital identity?