Posted in C21st Learners, CSU, Digital Citizenship, Digital learning space, Digital Literacy, INF537, Library service, Teaching and Learning, Technology in Education, website design

5 reasons a school library needs a website


As we continue to travel along the path of re-visioning our iCentre virtual spaces, we have been investigating what a website, Library Management System (LMS) and social media can offer school library services.  Our research has been interesting and we easily agreed that the LMS and social media are vital virtual spaces for our services.  The Library Management Systems we have investigated are web-based, learner-centred, sophisticated and interactive and as such, we have been challenged to consider the question: is an iCentre Website necessary?  Our conclusion is a resounding YES and here are the reasons why:

screen-shot-2016-09-11-at-12-43-26-pmWe model the literacy of participation

Jenkins et al. argue that the digital divide between those who will succeed in twenty-first (21st) century futures and those that will be left behind is determined not by access to technology but by access to opportunities to participate and develop the cultural competencies and social skills necessary in new media landscapes (2006, p.3).  Crockett, Jukes and Chruches (2011, p.14), O’Leary (2012, para.18), and Seely Brown (2012, p.15) are also among those advocating the necessity of educating for participation because individuals who find themselves lacking such skills are at risk of being on the wrong side of the divide and left behind in academia and the workplace. Many of the skills and mindsets outlined by these authors, require schools to transition from a scholarship practice that uses technology as a tool to enhance research to a social scholarship practice “in which the use of social tools is an integral part of the research and publishing process and is characterized by openness, conversation, collaboration, access, sharing and transparent revision” (Pearce et al. & Cohen as cited in Veletsianos & Kimmons, 2012, p.767).  The iCentre website models this literacy of participation through publishing blogs, connecting with social media, and the open sharing of learning.

screen-shot-2016-09-11-at-12-43-39-pmWe serve a community not just students & teachers

The college community served by the iCentre is broader than the students and teachers on campus.  In particular, parents, as the primary educators, are an important part of our community.  One of the roles of the iCentre is to provide leadership in digital citizenship.  The website regularly curates and publishes information on how parents can assist their children to develop the capacity to build a positive digital footprint that showcases their learning interests, talents, and successes, and enables them to build social skills and cultural competencies.  This content also includes resources that will assist the community to use information and technology safely, legally and ethically.  To this end, an icentre website is a valuable tool because it provides learning experiences that enable the community to engage in positive digital practices that are relevant and timely.

screen-shot-2016-09-11-at-12-43-50-pmWe value networks

Technological shifts have changed the culture of learning to one in which the classroom is now global and provides learners with access to “nearly unlimited resources and incredible instruments while connecting with one another at the same time” (Thomas & Seely Brown, 2011, loc.55).  In this new culture, learning resides in the ability to form networks and learning how to learn, what to learn, who to learn with and when to learn is more important than the mastery of content (Olsen, 2011, p.22).  It is argued that understanding both digital competencies and new ways of learning in order to model digital citizenship become possible when educators take on the responsibility of developing a Personal Learning Network (PLN) (Richardson & Mancabelli, 2011, p.10).  The iCentre website is one of the tools we use to connect with our colleagues in education – it is part of our learning network.  We have had many instances of professionals from other school libraries making suggestions for our website, contributing content to our website, and contacting us through the website in order to visit and share knowledge.  Such connections have been invaluable to the service we offer our community.

screen-shot-2016-09-11-at-12-43-59-pmWe value Open Scholarship

A trend that has been identified in 21st Century scholarship is an “openness” resultant from developing digital communication and networked technologies (Pearce et al., 2010, p.37).  According to Katz, this trend towards open content, knowledge and learning will offer great opportunities for scholars (2010, p.6).  The Creative Commons movement, which has opened up access to licensed creative content and also allows individuals to license work for others to share, is one example of how openness can lower barriers and democratize learning.  By sharing resources and learning through the iCentre website, we too are participating in a form of open scholarship.

screen-shot-2016-09-11-at-12-44-09-pmWe want to share our story

At this year’s Edutech Conference in Brisbane, both Kate Tormey, CEO of the State Library of Victoria and Dr Ross J. Todd, associate professor at Rutgers University, Department of Library and Information Sciences, stressed to delegates of the Future Libraries stream that if libraries are to thrive, then they must share their story.  The capacity of the Teacher-Librarians to share their story both within the college and beyond has valuable outcomes and the iCentre website has proved a powerful way to share our story.


Crockett, L.,Jukes, I., & Churches, A. (2011). Literacy is not enough: 21st-century fluencies for the digital age. [Epub]. Kelowna, B:C: 21st Century Fluency Project.

Jenkins, H.,Clinton, K., Purushotoma, R., Robinson, A., J., & Weigel, M. (2006). Confronting the challenges of participatory culture: Media education for the 21st century. Paper presented at MacArthur Foundation. Retrieved from

O’Leary, T. (2012, October 10). Making connections to end digital divide. The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved from

Olsen, R. (2011). Understanding virtual pedagogies for contemporary teaching & learning (pp. 1-32, Rep.). Victoria: IdeasLAB.

Pearce, N.,Weller, M., Scanlon, E., & Ashleigh, M. (2010). Digital scholarship considered: How new technologies could transform academic work. In Education, 16(1), 33-44.

Richardson, W., & Mancabelli, R. (2011). The power of networked learning. In Personal Learning Networks: Using the power of connections to transform education (pp. 1-14). Moorabbin, Cictoria: Solution Tree Press.

Seely Brown, J. (2012, November 21-22). CJ Koh Professorial Lecture Series No. 4 in Singapore: Learning in and for the 21st Century Singapore. Retrieved from

Thomas, D., & Brown, J. S. (2011). A new culture of learning: Cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change. Lexington, KY: CreateSpace.

Veletsianos, G., & Kimmons, R. (2012). Networked Participatory Scholarship: Emergent techno-cultural pressures toward open and digital scholarship in online networks. Computers & Education, 58,, 766-774. Retrieved from http://10.1016/j.compedu.2011.10.001




Posted in Teaching and Learning

Teaching digital citizenship: it’s more important than ever


Digital citizenship has been on the agenda at our school in a very purposeful way since 2010.  Some of the things we have introduced to achieve this are digital library services,  eBooks and digital textbooks, a BYOT program, and a subject called Retech: Research and Technology.  We’ve had whole classes of students setting up digital profiles, blogging and using Twitter and we’ve hit some pretty big goals but at the same time, certain questions and conversations persist.  Our pastoral guardians are finding that students continue to get themselves into difficulties on social media with issues such as inappropriate posts and bullying, the downloading of “free” movies, music and games is rife and parental concerns about excessive screen time and unbalanced lifestyles are growing.

So we are constantly evaluating what we are doing, looking to the current body of research and focussing on how we can improve what we do to build competent digital citizens.

WHY is this important?

Well … I am coming at this topic from two perspectives….

On the one hand, I’m currently parenting teenagers and I can tell those of you who are not, that our kids digital lives are a huge concern.  There’s rarely a conversation I have with other parents, whether it be at dinner parties, on the sideline of rugby games or dropping kids off at school, that doesn’t involve topics such as the amount of time kids spend on devices, the Facetime and Call of Duty visitors we constantly have in our houses and social media posts. Parents are really concerned about their kids vulnerability, their health and wellness, the impact on relationships and their futures.

On the other hand, I am an educator who wants to prepare kids for futures that will require very strong understandings of digital communication, etiquette, finance, and so on.   I believe that those who have mastered the literacies of participation – digital and network literacies, will thrive and those who don’t will be left behind, There is a lot of literature on this – it’s what they call the new digital divide and it’s not about who has access to technology and who doesn’t, it’s about who has access to the opportunities, experiences and skills of digital participation and can use these to build cultural competencies and social skills in a world that is digital. One article worth reading is the White Paper: Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century by Henry Jenkins (2006).

This is a concept that is central to our approach, that is, the belief that citizenship in the digital world should be considered no differently to civil citizenship and in fact life for the majority of Australian kids today includes digital participation.  It’s not ‘the real world’ versus ‘the digital world’, just that the real world is digital – it’s simply part of life.  As such, digital citizenship will impact every aspect of our students’ futures, in areas of health, ethics, academia, socially and professionally.   There are many examples where the ignorance of repercussions for poor online behaviour has led to people being in trouble with the law and dismissed from jobs in recent times and the alarming fact is that these incidents are increasing not decreasing.

The following presentation, was given to educators at Edutech 2015 and explores some of these issues.  The QR codes at the end of the presentation link to reference lists for those interested in exploring the research behind these ideas or exploring digital citizenship further.

Image Attribution

PublicDomainPictures, Browsing Computer Female Floor Girl Internet, Public Domain

Posted in C21st Learners, Digital Citizenship, Digital Literacy, Information Fluency, Social Media, Teaching and Learning, Technology in Education

A reading list for digital citizenship in secondary schools


A recent university assignment investigating Digital Citizenship in Education studied in the Masters course, Knowledge networks and digital innovation, being studied through Charles Sturt University (CSU) required students to assess digital citizenship needs within their school environments and make recommendations for future directions. One element of the task was to prepare an annotated bibliography of essential reading for college leadership teams. This is the bibliography prepared by myself and Kathryn Schravemade. It contains some excellent resources for anyone considering digital citizenship priorities for secondary schools.

Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority. (2015). General capabilities in the Australian curriculum. Retrieved from

When considering the policy and procedures needed for a DLE, it is imperative to consider the concept of digital citizenship and how this will be managed and taught within the school in question, as this will directly influence the behaviour of staff and students online. The transition from analogue to digital classrooms places great pressure on educators to be aware of the behaviours of their students in digital and globally connected environments and, while constant monitoring of these behaviours is almost impossible, providing them with guidelines and models of how to interact in such environments will assist them in having successful learning experiences online. Consequently, it is imperative that educators and administrators become familiar with the General Capabilities of the Australian Curriculum as they provide insight into how aspects of digital citizenship can be incorporated across disciplines in a school environment. On this website, beyond the obvious links to digital citizenship and technology use in the ICT Capability, reading the information associated with the capabilities of Ethical Behaviour, Personal and Social Competence and Intercultural Understanding are of particular worth, as they have considerable implications for digital citizenship. The social nature of DLEs in online environments is relevant to the capability of Ethical Behaviour as students must ensure they are aware of the impact their behaviours can have on others and manage this accordingly. This also has relevance to the capabilities of Intercultural Understanding and Personal and Social Competence as students become aware of the differences between cultures in a DLE and be able to act appropriately and ethically in response to this. The General Capabilities must be considered when preparing policy and procedures for a DLE as teachers in Australia are expected to address and assess these across all learning areas.

Crockett, L., Jukes, I., & Churches, A. (2011). Literacy is not enough: 21st century fluencies for the digital age. Kelowna, B.C.: 21st Century Fluency Project.

Literacy is not enough: 21st century fluencies for the digital age focuses on identifying the learning environments necessary to facilitate digital learning and methods for implementing these. The authors, Lee Crockett, Ian Jukes and Andrew Churches have authored and co-authored several books, articles and blogs that focus on educating students to thrive in a time of exponential change. The central argument of this book is that the information landscapes of the 21st century require a shift in the way we teach and evaluate learning. The purpose of this book is to provide an impetus to initiate change and is best used to stimulate questions that challenge traditional pedagogical methods and structures with a focus on relevancy for contemporary learning. The first three chapters build the authors’ argument and the remaining chapters outline a core set of ‘fluencies’ (solution fluency, information fluency, creativity fluency, media fluency, collaboration fluency and global digital citizenship) and provide tools for teachers to use in order to develop lesson plans, create assessment tools and reflect upon professional practice.

Hollandsworth, R., Dowdy, L., & Donovan, J. (2011). Digital citizenship in K-12: It takes a village. TechTrends, 55(4), 37-48. Retrieved March 28, 2015.

Providing an overview of the issues schools need to consider as they set in place the policies and procedures necessary to establish a digital learning environment must address digital citizenship. The article, Digital citizenship in K-12: It takes a village, argues that student guidance in this area is essential in order to develop a society that is, “defined by effective attitudes and practices in digital decision making, ethical and legal issues, online safety, customer security, consumer security, and technology related health issues” (p.37). The authors qualifications in the field of education and a significant reference list are provided to validate the reliability of their research. The strength of this article is that it articulates all of the stakeholders involved in establishing a shared vision for digital learning priorities in schools. The article also provides evidence of the need to embed digital citizenship into curriculum and suggested methods for achieving this. It repeatedly argues that administrators and teachers need to be role models of digital citizenship as it is impossible to understand the behaviours and mindsets associated with online engagement unless they themselves are participants in the digital world, and this makes it a worthwhile read for college leadership teams.

International Society for Technology in Education. (2015). ISTE Standards. Retrieved May 14, 2015, from

The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) provide a set of standards that are useful guidelines for the skills, knowledge and processes needed by students, teachers, administrators, coaches and computer science educators to succeed in the digital age. These standards were developed between 2007 and 2011 and are a very good framework for best practice strategies and an essential resource for establishing digital learning environments. ISTE’s goal is to, “empower all learners in a connected world” and they provide an international conference, website resources, and professional learning communities to achieve their vision. The standards are accessed via the ISTE website, where educators can find connected resources such as the Essential conditions for technology integration and Standards in action which are examples of educators enacting the standards in classroom settings. ISTE’s work is based on peer-reviewed research on effective learning and teaching with technology and is edited by people with expertise in the field of education.

Jenkins, H., Clinton, K., Purushotma, R., Robison, A. J., & Weigel, M. (2006). Confronting the challenges of participatory culture: Media education for the 21st century [White paper]. Retrieved from MacArthur Foundation website

Sponsored by the MacArthur Foundation, Confronting the challenges of participatory culture: Media education for the 21st century, investigates the roles of schools in helping students acquire the skills they need to become full participants in society. The key argument of this paper is that the digital divide between those who will succeed in twenty-first (21st) century futures and those that will be left behind is determined not by access to technology but by access to opportunities to participate and develop the cultural competencies and social skills necessary in new media landscapes. The paper is thoroughly referenced and the principal author is Henry Jenkins, the Director of Comparative Media Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The Executive Summary of the paper provides a succinct overview of why schools require policy and pedagogy shifts to focus on building participatory cultures. The remainder of the paper provides explanations of each of the skills required for participation and strategies for building these new media literacies.

Johnson, L., Adams Becker, S., Estrada, V., & Freeman, A. (2014). NMC horizon report: 2014 K-12 edition. Retrieved from New Media Consortium website

Perhaps one of the most valuable resources for administrators and educators considering the implementation of Digital Learning Environments, the New Media Consortium Horizon Report: 2014 K-12 edition, provides a well-researched overview of emerging technologies likely to impact teaching and learning in schools over a five year period. This report covers the three main areas of: key trends, significant challenges and important developments predicted.   Crucial considerations for the digital age, such as rethinking the role of teachers, the safety of student data and hybrid learning designs are discussed in depth throughout this report and curated links to further reading and practical examples of how these concepts are applied to school settings are given for each area. What is also unique about the Horizon Report is that all of the background materials involved in the report, including research data and preliminary selections, can be downloaded for free on iTunes U. Often as educators we are exposed to research about new technology and pedagogical trends with little evidence of how they may impact our policies and practice, however refreshingly, the Horizon Report discusses the implications for policy, leadership and practice for each of the trends identified. When considering the policies and procedures necessary for a DLE, this report provides essential reading as it provides insight into thetechnology, skills and support that will be needed to remain current in teaching and learning in the digital age.

Ribble, M. (2011). Digital Citizenship in Schools : Nine Elements All Students Should Know (2nd Edition). Eugene, OR, USA: ISTE. Retrieved from

Digital Citizenship in Schools: Nine Elements All Students Should Know is the work of Mike Ribble and offers an overview of the behaviours, mindsets and skills necessary for successful participation in a digital society. Following this overview, Ribble provides a framework and lesson guides for schools developing digital learning environments that necessitate digital citizenship education. For the purposes of this research task, Section 3: Creating a digital citizenship program is particularly useful for identifying the digital learning issues affecting education. The structure of the book allows easy access for educators to use sections and chapters on an‘as needs’ basis, and as such, provides a useful reference source. Ribble’s qualifications support the reliability of this source and include: the attainment of a Doctor of Education, authoring a number of works (books and journal articles) on digital citizenship education published by the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) and a position as District Director of Technology. Chapter 2: the nine elements of digital citizenship is recommended for school leadership teams to become familiar with the areas encompassed in responsible, appropriate behaviour with regards to technology use.

School Technology Branch, Alberta Education. (2012). Digital citizenship policy development guide. Retrieved from Alberta Education website

The Digital Citizenship Policy Development Guide published by Alberta Education acts as a guide for educators and administrators who are looking to establish a digital citizenship policy within their institution. Structured around Ribble’s research on digital citizenship, this document provides an overview of digital citizenship policies and practices while drawing from relevant school-based research. Although set in an American context with examples taken from schools in Alberta, the structuring of this guide around Ribble’s Nine (9) Elements of Digital Citizenship makes it relevant to educational institutions universally. The key purpose of this guide is to provide guidance in policy development to ensure the protection of students working in digital learning environments. While the introduction of this publication alone is essential reading in its definition and explanation of the relevance of digital citizenship in schools, each one of the nine (9) elements of digital citizenship are explored in relation to student and educator considerations, organisational requirements and policy considerations through Chapter Four (4). Although the laws discussed in this resource are applicable only to readers in Alberta, the application of digital citizenship policy to these laws provides brilliant precedent and discussions that could be applied to any educational organisation, regardless of its location. This resource is an excellent starting point for readers investigating policies and procedures applicable to Digital Learning Environments as it links relevant twenty-first (21st) century learning standards such as the ISTE NETs for students, teachers and administrators to digital citizenship frameworks. Of particular relevance to education administrators looking to create policies and procedures relevant to DLEs, is Chapter Five (5) Digital Citizenship Process and A Road Map, which draws together policy, outcomes, leadership and stakeholder involvement. The Digital Citizenship Policy Development Guide was particularly useful when conducting this environmental scan report as it assisted in modelling how frameworks and research can be mapped to establish relevant policy and discussed issues that may be pertinent to a DLE, such as cloud computing and Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT).

West, M., & Vosloo, S. (2013). UNESCO policy guidelines for mobile learning. Retrieved from

Developed in consultation with education experts from a range of over twenty countries, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) Policy Guidelines for Mobile Learning provides essential guidelines related to embedding ICTs in school policies and procedures. Aimed particularly at policy-makers and administrators, the document recognises that all new policies within a school must consider the opportunities afforded by mobile technology and digital environments. Thus, these guidelines assist readers in understanding the benefits of mobile and digital technology and how they can be incorporated to improve teaching and learning. The chapter entitled Policy Guidelines for Mobile Learning starting on page twenty-nine (29) of the report, assists administrators and policy-makers in understanding and taking-action to include mobile learning in their policies and procedures, including areas such as teacher training and support, optimising educational experiences for students and advocating for safe, responsible and healthy use of mobile technologies. This section also highlights practices that should be examined, avoided and provided in policies and procedures, allowing educators to consider how this would affect a DLE in their own school environment. Therefore, this document is integral reading when considering the policies and procedures needed for a DLE in a school environment.

Zellweger Moser, F. (2007). Faculty adoption of educational technology. Educause Quarterly, 30(1), 66-69. Retrieved from

Zellweger Moser’s research entitled Faculty Adoption of Education Technology provides an in-depth examination of the ways in which technological support provided by the employing institution can influence teaching staff when integrating technology in their teaching and learning. Although Zellweger Moser’s research was undertaken in higher education facilities, it includes several considerations applicable to teaching staff in both primary and secondary environments. Figure One (1) entitled, Faculty Educational Technology Adoption Cycle on page sixty-six (66), is an adoption cycle proposed by the author that incorporates factors such as time commitment, competence development and student feedback that are likely to impact upon teacher adoption of technology use and digital environment s. On page sixty-eight (68) of the document Table One (1) Negative Educational Technology Adoption Scenario and Figure Two (2) Faculty eLearning Behaviour and Support, address the issues identified in this environmental scan report of staff preparedness and buy-in and the role of senior and middle management in supporting a DLE. Zellweger Moser’s finding that level of support given to teaching staff when adopting technology and DLEs significantly influences the success of such initiatives cannot be ignored in the policies and procedures of an intended DLE.

Image Attribution

Nominalize, Social Media Blocks Blogger Linkedin Facebook, Public Domain

Posted in Digital Citizenship, Teaching and Learning, Technology in Education

Developing digital leaders = including students in your school’s digital citizenship strategy


We cannot predict what technology will look like by the time our students graduate so how do we educate them to be citizens of a digital world that does not exist yet?  This is a question I am considering as I do some research into developing a school-wide digital citizenship program.  According to some of the literature, one answer may lie in adding student leadership to the plan for a school’s digital citizenship strategy.

Over the past five years, mobile device and ubiquitous internet connection have become more accessible to adolescents and secondary schools have found themselves dealing with increasing incidents of digital behaviour issues such as cyberbullying and sexting.  For many educational leaders, the rapidity of technological change meant that these issues seemed to come out of nowhere and they responded to these incidents on a case-by-case basis (Ohler, 2012, p.15) and by developing Acceptable Use policies which are mostly lists of rules and what Crockett, Jukes & Churches call “the thou-shalt-nots of using technology” (2011, p.122).  Ohler states that the problem with these approaches is that they address symptoms not issues (2012, p.15).  It also means that schools are being reactive rather than proactive when it comes to digital citizenship.

An alternative approach suggests that schools should craft a vision for digital citizenship education that includes a set of core beliefs about what constitutes smart, responsible and ethical decisions both online and and in real life (Chen & Orth, 2013, para.5).  It is also advocated that students are included in developing and enacting this vision (Chen & Orth, 2013; Ohler, 2012; and Harper, 2008).  As Harper points out, “students make up about 92% of people in attendance in any school [yet] most technology plans focus on the role of the other 8% (teachers, administrators, adult technical support staff)”  (2008, p.1).  Furthermore, designing programs should incorporate the same principles as other forms of design and it is repeatedly stated that addressing the user’s experience is essential when designing innovative solutions (Brown, 2009; Bennett, 2007; Buchanan, 1992; and Kimbell, 2011).  In the case of education, addressing the user’s experience necessitates a co-creative design process that includes student voice (Sanders & Stapers, 2008, p.5).

Some of the benefits of including students in designing digital citizenship programs include:

  • an end product that is responsive to the reality of students’ cyber lives (Ohler, 2012, p.15)
  • an opportunity for students and adults to engage in conversations about living digitally (Ohler, 201, p.16)
  • increased relevance of education to students (Harper, 2008, p.2)
  • improved technology integration school-wide (Harper, 2008, p.2)
  • an opportunity for students to participate in leadership opportunities tied to technology (Harper, 2008, p.2)

Importantly, inviting students to partner with teachers, administrators and parents in the development of digital citizenship strategies means they are “taking action to proliferate new ideas and better habits of learning” (CSU, 2015, para.1) and this offers an authentic opportunity for student digital leadership.


Bennett, P. (2007, May 16). Design is in the details. Retrieved October 7, 2014, from

Brown, T. (2009). Change by design: How design thinking creates new alternatives for business and society. New York: Collins Business.

Buchanan, R. (1992).  Wicked problems in design thinking.  Design Issues, 8(2), 5–21.

Charles Sturt University (CSU). (2015). Empowering digital citizenship action, ETL523 Digital Citizenship in Schools. Retrieved May, 2015.

Chen, E., & Orth, D. (2013). The strategy for digital citizenship. NAIS Independent School Magazine, (Summer). Retrieved May 16, 2015, from

Crockett, L., Jukes, I., & Churches, A. (2011). Literacy is not enough: 21st-century fluencies for the digital age. Kelowna, B.C.: 21st Century Fluency Project.

Harper, D. (2008). Vision to action: Adding student leadership to your technology plan. Retrieved May 15, 2015, from

Kimbell, L. (2011). Rethinking design thinking: Part 1. Design and Culture, 3(3), 285-306. Retrieved August 23, 2014, from

Ohler, J. (2012). Digital citizenship means character education for the digital age. Education Digest, 77(8), 14-17. Retrieved May 14, 2015.

Sanders, E. B., & Stappers, P. J. (2008). Co-creation and the new landscapes of design. CoDesign: International Journal of CoCreation in Design and the Arts, 4(1), 5-18. doi:10.1080/15710880701875068

Image Attribution

Engineering student reading a digital tablet in student lounge. [Photograph]. Retrieved from Encyclopædia Britannica ImageQuest.

Posted in C21st Learners, Digital Citizenship, Technology in Education

Digital Lifestyle = Public = Digital Citizenship = Digital Learning Environment


A digital lifestyle

The Students I work with live digital lifestyles. They attend a BYOT school that requires them to own a laptop. Additionally, the majority of them also own personal mobile device such as a phone or tablet. Some of them also have wearable computers such a smart watches and fitbits. They use social media and belong to online communities. They are often texting, downloading, updating and searching and they are always looking for Wi-Fi and chargers. Come to think of it, this same lifestyle is lived by their teachers, parents, grandparents, coaches and employers. It’s just the way life is for many in modern society.

Public roles as media makers & community participants

Modern society requires people to take on “increasingly public roles as media makers and community participants” (Jenkins, Clinton, Purushotma, Robison, & Weigel, 2006, p.3). Preparing students for the modern workplace and academia requires adding non-traditional skills, knowledge and cultural competencies to our curriculums. To be best prepared for their futures, students will need to:

  • understand right behaviours and build the practical skills required to use technology in healthy, responsible and safe ways;
  • be able to learn from and build knowledge with peers and teams of people, often whom they may never meet face-to-face;
  • value intellectual property in order to use the work of others legally and ethically and also to license their own work appropriately;
  • be critical users of information so that they choose authoritative sources and are aware of the ways that media shape perceptions of the world; and
  • understand how to contribute to the collective in order to develop meaningful solutions.

Digital citizenship education

In Australia, the Digital Education Revolution saw laptops put into the hands of students. As this initiative has reached its conclusion, schools across the country are implementing BYOD policies (Smith, 2014, Para.2). Given this, it is time for education to shift the focus from the equitable provision of digital access to the equitable provision of opportunities to use technology to develop the social, academic and cultural literacies required for digital participation. Furthermore, teachers who simply use devices as electronic notepads or textbooks will fail to provide opportunities for students to build digital citizenship competencies and attitudes such as those outlined by Mike Ribble (2011, p.11):


Digital learning environments

Authentic digital citizenship education requires digital learning environments. By enabling students to communicate, create, collaborate, disseminate, store and manage information in these environments digital citizenship knowledge and skills are not a choice for students and teachers to adopt, they are a necessity. Schools that are preparing young people for 21st century pathways understand the need for such environments and their responsibility to “develop the skills needed for critical evaluation, online collaboration and communication and behaviours which support safe, responsible and ethical use of digital technology” (Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, 2010, p.8).

What does this mean for my students?

That brings me back to my students and what I need to consider for their learning. One of the things that I think is important for authentic digital citizenship education is for students to engage in environments beyond the Content Management System (CMS). This means we need to use Web 2.0 tools and social media in our classrooms. By doing so, we can lead our students towards positive digital footprints. Furthermore, if we don’t guide students to participate in authentic online environments and communities, we risk the proliferation of ignorance about the consequences and permanence of their online interactions.


Department of Education and Early Childhood Development. (2010). Digital learning statement. Innovation and Next Practice Division, Melbourne. Digital Learning Statement [Fact sheet].Retrieved from

Jenkins, H., Clinton, K., Purushotma, R., Robison, A. J., & Weigel, M. (2006). Confronting the challenges of participatory culture: Media education for the 21st century [White paper]. Retrieved from MacArthur Foundation website

Ribble, M. (2011). Digital Citizenship in Schools : Nine Elements All Students Should Know (2nd Edition). Eugene, OR, USA: ISTE. Retrieved from

Smith, A. (2014, February 21). End of free laptop program means it’s BYO device now for many high school students. The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved March 14, 2015.

Image attribution

Stokpic, Person Abstract Ipad No Face Sky Clouds Man, CC0 Public Domain

Posted in Digital Citizenship, Social networking for informational professionals

PLNs – is there ever too much of a good thing?

In 2008, Jeff Utecht wrote a blog post outlining what he believed to be the stages of Personal Learning Network (PLN) adoption. He observed that when people go about starting a PLN they often move through five stages that include immersion, evaluation, know it all, perspective and balance. In this model, stage 3, know it all, can be a dangerous time. At this stage, Utecht says people find themselves spending many hours trying to learn everything they can, they feel like they can’t afford to miss anything posted in networks and even give up sleep to stay connected. The image below was developed by Utecht to illustrate these stages:

Stages of a PLN

Personally, I think these stages do describe my own journey in establishing a PLN and I oscillate between stage 3, 4 and 5. I particularly identify with a comment on the blog made by Nancy that says “I might consider drawing a ’roundabout’ as well since I find myself entering Stage 3, then 4, then 5 and then something happens and I’m back at Stage 3 then going on to 4, etc.” I always maintain a goal of balance but manage to lose this mid-term when I enjoy being connected to interesting people and great ideas to the point of spending too much time on devices. When university studies or the school term comes to an end, I have a break, get some perspective and seek balance again. If balance is a habit that can be achieved through practise and discipline, then my efforts to obtain this will eventually pay off and indeed, I think slowly, I am experiencing more of the balanced periods and less the manic ones.

In the classroom, I am constantly telling students that healthy digital citizenship includes digital down time as advocated by others such as Ribble (2011), Rheingold (2012) and Boyd (2014). I think it is important to ‘practice what I preach’ and apply this principle to time spent in my PLN. I also agree with the comment left by John Larkin in response to Utecht’s post, that states too much intensity in a PLN can lead to burn out and that can be debilitating, personally and professionally (2008). In his book, Netsmart: How to thrive online, Howard Rheingold argues that learning how and when to concentrate on the relevant portions of the incoming tsunami of information is a skill that can and should be learned. He labels this process – infotention (2012).

As part of my studies for Social Networking for Information Professionals at CSU, we were asked to develop a meme map of our own PLN which involves social networking sites, people and organizations. Here is mine:

My PLN is 2015-01-29 at 10.41.04 pm

For this subject, we were also challenged to identify any ‘gaps’ in our existing PLN (ie. areas which we feel we would like to develop further/in the future). Linkedin is one such gap in my PLN. While I have an account and a profile, I have always felt uncomfortable in this environment and avoid updating or participating here. I don’t have a solid explanation for these feelings but something about the platform makes me feel like a “boaster” on one hand and a “stalker” on the other. For the purposes of both the subject and my digital footprint, I have set the goal of becoming more familiar with what is on offer for professionals in Linkedin and improving my participation in this network.


Boyd, D. (2014). It’s complicated: The social lives of networked teens. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Rheingold, H. (2012). Net smart: How to thrive online. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Ribble, M. (2011). Digital citizenship in schools. Eugene, Or.: International Society for Technology in Education.

Utecht, J. (2008, April 03). Stages of PLN adoption [Web log post]. Retrieved January 31, 2015, from

Posted in C21st Learners, Social Media, Teaching and Learning

Narcissistic Teens & Helicopter Parents

Helicopter parent

As part of an assignment I am doing for my Masters degree, I am reading The App Generation by Howard Gardner and Katie Davis.  I am finding it really interesting that their evidence-based, American research certainly reflects my experience and the many conversations I have here in Australia with other teachers and parents.

When discussing the effect technology is having on today’s youth, a heightened sense of individualism, increased aversion to take risks and the need for constant endorsement are key concerns raised by Gardner and Davis (2013).  This, they say, is the result of broad societal trends and modern parenting and is facilitated by mobile devices, apps and social media.

With the emergence of mobile devices and social media, participation in online environments has increased exponentially and an online identity is now mainstream, not just the domain of the “computer geeks”.  It also means that one’s followers online are likely to be friends and family known to you in the offline world.  Because of this, young people are identifiable and there is no such thing as being anonymous.  Evidence suggests young people are very aware of this lack of anonymity and consequently are carefully crafting polished online presentations of their lives. The prudently edited photos, positive posts and frequent omissions are all selected to present a “glammed up” and positive presentation rather than the reality of a young person’s life.

It is of concern that these youth are much more self-focused and narcissistic than the youth of previous decades. Facebook and other social media sites fuel this behaviour by nature of their design – a profile is built on friend lists and inventories of personal tastes and activities.  The prolific posts of “Selfies” are also an example of the growing narcissistic behaviour of young people and “likes” are examples of validating and receiving endorsement for these behaviours.

Another worry about digital youth is there seems to be a reduced capacity to take reasonable risks.  This may be seen in connection with the growing trend toward individualism, if  “one speaks about narcissism not to indicate people who love themselves, but a personality so fragile that it needs constant support” (Gardner & Davis, 2013 p. 76).  There are a number of behaviours among youth that point to this need for constant reinforcement, validation and aversion to risk.  Some of the examples include text messaging which takes away the discomfort of face-to-face conversations, information apps that take away the risk of getting the wrong answer & location apps that take away the risk of getting lost. It is suggested that one of the reasons for this increased fragility may be because failure “once might have been witnessed by a few peers and then forgotten but today might become part of one’s permanent digital footprint” (p. 77)

Finally, modern parenting is identified as one contributing factor to youth’s reduced ability to take risks and develop autonomy.  It is suggested that the heightened fear of failure among teens is fuelled by helicopter parents (ever hovering with a watchful eye) who are so concerned for their children’s happiness that they don’t ask enough of their children and micromanage them so that mistakes and disappointments are avoided. The helicopter parent mentality is enabled by apps and technology and contact between parents and their children now takes place on a scale that was not possible in the pre-digital era.  This high level of contact does seem to indicate that youth have a weakened ability to make their own choices and are constantly seeking reassurance and confirmation.


Gardner, H., & Davis, K. (2013). The app generation: How today’s youth navigate identity, intimacy, and imagination in a digital world. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Greg Williams, Helicopter Wikiworld, CC X 3.0