My mission as a digital education leader is to collaborate with educators to support them in empowering students in growing as digital citizens, by promoting equity, modeling digital citizenship, and integrating digital mindfulness.
For an assignment I had for my graduate class Values, Ethics and Foundations in Digital Education, I was asked to develop my mission statement as a digital education leader. As a classroom teacher who is working to one day become a digital learning coach, I think there are many important values regarding the implementation of educational technology. Through the opportunities I have had to collaborate with other educators, and the experiences I have had with integrating technology in my own classroom, I have found formulated some principles to drive my practice. These are both principles in which I use to guide my daily digital instruction, as well as one’s in which I hope to implement as a digital learning coach in the future. Here are the three guiding principles I have developed to support me in implementing my digital learning mission statement.
- Advocating for equitable access to, and inclusion in technology use for all students, and finding solutions to access inequalities.
- Modeling digital citizenship practices for educators and students to help them use technology wisely.
- Helping educators and students to integrate mindful and intentional digital practice.
Principle 1: Advocating for equitable access to, and inclusion in technology use for all students, and finding solutions to access inequalities.
When thinking about my mission as a digital education leader, I believe that one of my most important guiding principles is promoting equity in educational technology. This principle connects with the ISTE Standards for Education Leaders 1b, which states that education leaders, “Ensure all students have access to the technology and connectivity necessary to participate in authentic and engaging learning opportunities.” Digital education, when used intentionally and equitably, can help to overcome inequalities and disadvantages that many students face around the world. As learning technologies continue to expand, and the knowledge of how to use these technologies effectively continues to grow, there is a greater focus on providing access to digital education for all students. It is my goal to help educators grow in understanding how digital education can work to cultivate and encourage diversity, equity, and inclusion in a variety of ways. By selecting learning technologies that culturally represent the students in our classrooms, we help them to feel connected and engaged with the work. In The Wiley Handbook of Learning Technology, Rebecca Bridges and Marshall Jones (2016) remind us that, “Technology in learning is no longer an option because technology is now a vital component of both work life and personal life. Technology, and our ability to access it freely, is inextricably connected to the fabric of everyday life” (p. 329). As a future digital learning coach, I believe it is my responsibility to support educators in seeking our new professional development opportunities that foster culturally relevant and diverse teaching practices. Additionally, when collaborating with educators I want to work with them to find resources and solutions to improve access inequalities.
Principle 2: Modeling digital citizenship practices for educators and students to help them use technology wisely.
Another guiding principle that will support me in my mission statement, is modeling digital citizenship. As a current classroom teacher, I understand the importance of modeling digital citizenship practices for my students and helping support other educators do the same. I was recently connecting with my school’s Director of Technology, and we were discussing potential resources to use to improve our digital citizenship instruction. This also got me thinking about ways I can help to support educators as a future digital learning coach. In reflecting on Marc Prensky’s “From Digital Natives to Digital Wisdom,” I am reminded of his discussion about digital wisdom. By modeling digital citizenship, we are helping to strengthen our students’ ability to use technology, “…to find practical, contextually appropriate, creative, and emotionally satisfying solutions to problems” (Prensky, 2013, p. 204-205). This practice of helping our students become digitally wise, is essential in our ever-evolving world. By fostering digital wisdom within our students, we are providing them with the knowledge and mindset to feel empowered to participate in the digital world.
Using technology wisely involves recognizing potential harms that can come from the technology we use, and how to work to engage in a digital world safely. This is where I believe the teachings of digital citizenship become so vital to the use of technology, especially with our students. The nine attributes that Mike Ribble outlines as being essential for digital citizens, serves as a helpful tool for using technology well and wisely. Ribble (2013) expands on this usefulness by saying, “Each of the nine ares requires technology users to think about what they are doing currently with a technology, but also asks them to stop and think about others as they interact online” (p. 141).
The skills that we teach our students about empathy, etiquette, responsibility, and safety, are that much more essential in a digital environment where these attributes are often forgotten or overlooked. As a digital education leader, it is my goal to work with educators on how to teach their students to use technology wisely, by modeling it as a tool that can extend learning and be partnered with pedagogical practices. I have a desire to collaborate with educators to support their students in understanding how to participate safely in the digital world. The ISTE Standards for Coaches 7a explains that digital learning coaches should, “Inspire and encourage educators and students to use technology for civic engagement and to address challenges to improve their communities.” I value the position I am in currently, in being able to be a direct digital citizen advocate to my students. This allows me to model digital citizenship practices, teach my students responsibilities online, and provide opportunities for them to put digital citizenship skills into practice. In focusing on this guiding principle, I want to continue to grow in collaborating with educators and helping them find meaningful digital citizenship curriculum to enhance the work they are doing with their students.
Principle 3: Helping educators and students to integrate mindful and intentional digital practice.
Lastly, I believe the guiding principle of integrating digital mindfulness is extremely important in supporting my mission as a digital education leader. In thinking about this guiding principle, I am immediately drawn to the lessons I learned from Howard Rheingold’s book
“Net Smart: How to Thrive Online.” Rheingold (2012) discusses the importance of mindful practice when navigating online, and how we can work to limit distractions and maximize our attentional potential. It is my goal to help educators and students to increase their mindfulness when connecting online. One way to practice mindfulness and become intentional in your online use, is to first practice goal-setting and build time management strategies. Practicing goal-setting with students and teaching them to be cognizant of their time and concentration on a given task, can help them to give full attention to the moment and recognize the environmental influences around them. Teaching students how to name these distractions can also help them practice productive ways to minimize these distractions when online.
Recognizing where our attention is being directed, whether it’s internally or externally, is important for helping us to improve our selectivity. As a digital education leader, I feel it is my responsibility to provide students with critical thinking strategies for how to navigate through distractions, and to help them learn more about their brain development. Our students are growing up in a world where their technology is redefining the idea of self, both in a digital and physical sense. Working to help students redefine what control means for them on digital devices, will help them to better understand their own agency. As we continue to discover how digital environments are reshaping our students’ habits and identities, I want to work with students and educators to help equip students with the knowledge on how to prepare for this new reality. Additionally, it is my goal to help integrate mindful and intentional digital practice, by supporting educators with finding resources on how to teach students healthy media choices.
Bridges, R., & Jones, M “Equity, Access, and the Digital Divide in Learning Technologies: Historical Antecedents, Current Issues, and Future Trends,” in The Wiley Handbook of Learning Technology, 327-47
Chapman, R. “Diversity and Inclusion in the Learning Enterprise: Implications for Learning Technologies,” in The Wiley Handbook of Learning Technology, ed. Nicholas John Rushby and Daniel W. Surry (Malden, Mass.: Wiley Blackwell, 2016), 287-300
Gegan, Wade. Nine Elements of Digital Citizenship. May 31, 2018. Retrieved from https://www.fractuslearning.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/digital_citizenship_1280.png
ISTE Standards for Coaches. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.iste.org/standards/for-coaches
ISTE Standards for Education Leaders. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.iste.org/standards/for-education-leaders
Prensky, M. “From Digital Natives to Digital Wisdom,” in From Digital Natives to Digital Wisdom: Hopeful Essays for 21st Century Learning (Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Corwin, 2013), 201-15 [in Canvas]
Rheingold, H. (2012). Net Smart : How to Thrive Online. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.
Ribble, M., & Miller, T. A.. “Educational Leadership in an Online World: Connecting Students to Technology Responsibly, Safely, and Ethically,” Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 17:1 (2013): 137-45