Category Archives: Digital Footprint

Final Project, Course 4: An ePortfolio Proposal

I’ve done a lot of inward and outward groaning this past week trying to grapple with my final course 4 project–and ostensibly my course 5 project.  ‘Why did I do such ambitious final projects in the earlier courses?’ I’ve moaned. ‘Now I need to top/go above and beyond what I did earlier…the project needs to be bigger, better…’ etc.

I’ve looked at several course 5 final project videos and descriptions, trying to get a handle on some that fit within my role as Ed Tech Facilitator/Coach for Early Primary and Early Years Teachers.  

I’ve lamented that now being out of the classroom, I have less control and can’t actually implement a redesigned unit plan, without at least first convincing a class teacher–or even more problematic/challenging–but potentially transformative– an entire grade level, as my school tends to strive for consistency across grade levels.

Even if I do manage to convince them of some great re-designed tech infused unit plan, I will be challenged to be available to document all the wonderfulness. Most teachers receive tech my integration ideas well, but they tend to be ‘one-off’ ideas, and aren’t looking to completely revamp an entire unit.  Some ideas, like using a few select apps to tell stories/communicate/reflect on learning (Spark Video or Book Creator) have certainly gained a lot of mileage with teachers, but I don’t (quite) see their implementation as a final project idea.

One area that I and most teachers have focussed on a great deal this year is the effective implementation and use of Digital Portfolios to highlight student learning.  I am thinking that this is the topic/project that I want to use as my final project.  I am just not sure how yet.  

I was initially reluctant to choose this as a topic, since two other Coetailers at my school have just both recently finished their own projects on the topic and I wondered how I could approach my own project from a different angle.  (I haven’t yet see either’s project’s in their entirety–just pieces, and I actually don’t even know their “angles.”)  In any case, their projects are about their own understanding and context–not mine.  

Looking back on the Seesaw Implementation Plan, a Google Doc about my school’s chosen e portfolio platform, Seesaw, created by my wonderful predecessor, I note that after January (January’s goal: possible introduction of the blog feature, or looking into quadblogging) the implementation plan is blank.  Obviously it is left up to me to drive the direction and next steps of the plan.

 

The more I think about it, figuring out how/when to best document and share student learning –and using this process as formative assessment both of/for and as learning has ultimately been and continues to be the bulk of my job.   Documenting my own, others and the students understanding of the process of (digitally) documenting learning and pushing both the understanding and the process of documentation itself to its highest potential will be my project.

Reaching the Highest Potential. Unsplash: No attribution required.

  1. Describe the project: What will your students do?

*I will include teachers as “students” throughout my project–as I work more directly with teachers and other staff than with particular groups of students.

The on-going examination and documentation of my school’s eportfolio story:  how to best share student learning–using our existing platforms–Seesaw for lower primary, blogger for upper primary (and Schoology as an SMS).  

Students and teachers will develop and practice their digital citizenship skills by actively seeking the feedback of and engaging with an authentic audience (students, parents, school community members and ideally, people beyond our walls).

Encourage teachers (ideally one rep per grade level at a minimum) to begin to use additional platforms more effectively by developing an online PLN to learn and share beyond our walls.  

  1. How does this project reflect your learning from COETAIL?

Coetail has taught me the importance of establishing a positive digital footprint by being more thoughtful and skilful in what we chose to share with the world, that developing key digital citizenship skills are paramount to success now and in the future.   I have experienced first hand the benefits of seeking, developing and engaging with an online PLN–which lead to the exposure to new ideas and connections and to see the value in sharing–that sharing is in fact our moral imperative.  

Through the act of blogging, I have become more reflective about my own learning and teaching practice.  The more we understand the significance of and engage with an authentic audience, the more careful and thoughtful we become about the learning we are sharing.  I hope to take students and teachers through a similar reflective journey via their portfolio platforms.

  1. What goals do you hope to achieve with this project?

My Project Goals:

  1. Teachers will improve in their ability to document a wide variety of student learning and will use this documentation more meaningfully in the classroom to enhance student learning.  Reluctant ‘posters’ (to Seesaw) will post more often. Frequent posters will post more reflectively.  Reflective posters will include more range in the technologies they use to document the learning.

2. I hope to use the blog feature of Seesaw in some of the classes/grades and to promote its use as a collaborative learning and reflection tool for students.  

3. I would like for the  younger students I work with to also use both the digital portfolio (and/or blog feature) more independently and reflectively.  

4. I hope to encourage more teachers to join Twitter, (or other online learning communities: e.g., Facebook groups or Google +) and for those that are currently using the platform, to use it more interactively & proactively by sharing examples of student learning.

Making those PLN Connections

  1. Why do you think this unit is a good possibility for your Course 5 project?

The digital documentation and curation of student learning is now a school wide goal and expectation.  Many teachers are new to the process and are looking for guidance.  Speaking from an early primary perspective, I can say that so far this learning journey for (most) teachers has been embraced enthusiastically.  But, many need new ideas, strategies and assistance in this process.  It continues to be a big focus for many teachers and most young students are just beginning to develop their own understanding of the process and its benefits.  Students will need additional and continued guidance, too, in order to be more reflective about their learning and autonomous when sharing/posting their learning.

  1. What are some of your concerns about redesigning this unit?

(Not really a unit re-design, but more a thinking about teaching and learning and documenting re-design: this year my school has moved away from Paper portfolios, but some still cling to old ways and ideas, and making this an effective transition and an actual pedagogical shift takes time and constant inspiration.)

One thing I really do want to push/introduce/explore, according to the Seesaw implementation plan, is the blog option and helping classes connect with other classes–whether that be simply within our own school, or globally.   That  being said, many are not (yet) willing to branch beyond our chosen platform of Seesaw (for lower primary) or Blogger (for upper primary) in order to share learning more publicly via local/global collaborations using (public) blogs, or making/sharing learning more publicly (via Twitter, Google +, etc.)  Many feel that this year they have had to learn one too many new digital platforms (and they have–new student management systems, reporting systems, parent conference systems, etc.) and that picking up and maintaining yet another is just too much.  A few teachers have Twitter accounts, but most tend to use them for consumption purposes.  An even smaller number of teachers have started their own blogs to document their professional learning.  

This other aspect of pushing the digital platform to its highest potential–the making Learning Visible–i.e., public, is a big ask, and many teachers don’t (yet) see its value vs risk/extra work.   I hope to encourage more teachers to branch out of their comfort zone (which is typically private, what happens in the classroom, stays in the classroom, except for sharing with parents)  and expand their learning in the form of public sharing of both student and teacher learning and developing (and understanding the value of) an expanded PLN.  I’m not sure if this is actually a second idea, and worthy of another project entirely, but it is also something I hope to pursue.

  1. What shifts in pedagogy will this new unit require from you?

I hope to learn how to maximise teacher and student learning using Seesaw by becoming  a Seesaw ambassador. I am hopefully accepted into this program, which will not only get a me a cool badge to put next to my name–but ultimately complement other course 5 goals–which are participating more fully in my own PLN in order to promote its effectiveness with teachers, and of course directly benefit teachers and students I work with by learning more about Seesaw’s possibilities via webinars and twitter chats and determining how to best share/relay/implement this information, as part of being an ambassador. So far, I have dabbled/lurked in webinars and Twitter chats, but I would like to further develop my own confidence when using these learning tools, and promoting their use with my staff.

Since I ultimately work most often with teachers rather than students, these aren’t technically shifts in pedagogy, but I will be looking at different ways of spreading information and improving my oral and visual communication skills and ability to influence teacher practice.

  1. What skills and/or attitudes will this new unit require from your students?

Teachers (and eventually students) will be more frequent/thoughtful/creative posters of student learning in Seesaw.

Teachers will (begin to use or) improve their use of social media/other digital communication platforms to share best practices and share student learning.
(Again, I am not entirely sure if these 2 areas of exploration are one in the same or if they are indeed two separate goals and ideas worthy of further exploration, but this is my thinking so far…and this being the first day of my well deserved Christmas break, I think I will leave it at that.  I am sure, with time away from the daily grind, this will encourage further reflection and I will continue to develop my project ideas.

Unsplash: No Attribution required. Happy Holidays!

Course 3 Final Project

I began the final week without a clear idea of what I wanted to do.  I had started by creating a basic infographic based on Seth Godin’s  “Here, I made this” post, as promised last week:

here-i-made-thi_17051997_1b4de737762b742848e2c8000cde4249d1c5add2

*not quite happy with the unbalanced white space, but it was an “icongraphic” created from scratch (no template) so I’ll let that go.

I didn’t think this was enough and it was more for fun than anything, so I continued to think.

I’d already revamped a variety of presentations for earlier posts this course, and I’ve had my fill of relatively recent film projects (I took on the rather ambitious task of creating a Goodbye Video for 9 leaving staff members, enlisting the help of remaining staff on two campuses to combine and edit footage of staff and students), so I decided to choose the 3rd option, Create an About Me Page.  I had a look at Sonya terBorg’s example and loved the revamp of her resume, and wanted to do something similar…but less “resume-ish.”

As I mentioned in last week’s post, I am mostly an infographic newbie and wanted to further explore and play about with visually representing My data, ideas, interests.  

I had earlier mucked about with the All About Me Template on Piktochart, and noticed with each draft, the visuals improved considerably and the information was more tailored to what I wanted to share and highlight.  

I’ll start with my thinking behind the Design Elements:

I started with my most recent New and Improved All About Me as a template:

My second version of the infographic

Infographic I shared with students in My Design Club

but in the end, little remained of the original.  I loved the warmth of the rustic wood background–although somehow a juxtaposition to my “tech-y” role, I still wanted to keep it, feeling it complemented my focus on incorporating Tech in the Outdoors and my school’s Reggio Inspired approach to Early Learning.

I played about with the colour scheme some, initially wanting a gender neutral, but funky melon/orange and blue/green mix…I pulled the melon colour from the dress I am wearing in the photograph and peppered it around the page.  (The colour of the ‘Likes and Skills’ icon is fixed, so that colour is a bit off, unfortunately.)

The page is divided into threes, a design feature in homage to the rule of thirds. I also paid close attention to the CARP design principles:  I made sure to add features that would provide enough Contrast (colour blocks behind text to make it easier to read) which at the same time helped with Proximity–by grouping like information (Job History; Current Job Focuses; Interests & Skills.)  I used icons representing my interests in the bottom right and a head shot in the top right for compositional balance.  

Many of the icons had a cacophony of default fonts, which I had to change and resize in order to Repeat the basic two I had chosen (Copse and Deconeue). The Data Charts’ title and legend default font could not be altered, unfortunately, resulting in a 3rd font that doesn’t quite fit with my typography attempt at “a palette with wit” combining tough (Deconeue) and sweet (Copse).

Finally, much fine tuning went into making sure the Alignment was as good as I had the patience to make it.  Sometimes simple movements of .1mm would cause all the text boxes that had been “moved to the front” to disappear, resulting in my near loss of sanity.  

Deciding what ‘hard data’ to share in my infographs and how to share it was also a stickler.  I started off with the traditional resume summary of where I had worked and in what roles, but with a twist by using this data to create a “timeline/percentage bar graph of places worked.” I didn’t give it a title and hope this is evident without explanation.  

The other ‘infograph’ within an infograph (chart where data is entered) was the breakdown of my current focuses/time spent/head space allocated within a typical work week.  Of course this varies, and some weeks Coetail’s % is considerably higher…

new-and-improve_16953691_7a43fa9cd17016e258156fe774565942e1eba88d

The first part of my Revamped All About Me Page.

The second part of my All About Me Page is a live Google Map of my Resume, or my “Learning Journey.”  I loved this idea from the last week’s readings and decided to try it out myself.  I also like that it is a live document, so I can continually add or edit items without having to re-save/download and upload to the blog (as required by the free version of Piktochart…I wonder at the paid version’s sharing options).

I added traditional elements like my schooling &  places worked, and hope to add more “places” and descriptions as they strike me and photos as I stumble upon them. I also added a few key personal and exotic experiences that helped shape where and who I am today (meeting my future husband the day after a sketchy late night stranding on the side of the road in Zambia…)  

I did have an All About Me Page previously, with a headshot and a wordy paragraph about my new role and focus. Unfortunately I forgot to take a screenshot before all the changes, but needless to say, it is much improved. I am not planning on using it for recruitment purposes anytime soon, and am not entirely sure of the immediate applications with either students or teachers I work with. Does this make the process of doing it any less valuable? Absolutely not. As I write this, I am flipping back and forth between my Infographic and Map and reflecting and changing and improving things (and my thinking) ever so slightly. I am experiencing a renewed appreciation of the fact that documenting learning and reflecting on learning is learning.

I am reminded of George Couros’s archived post from my Feedly this week with a brilliant quote from John Dewey:

 

“We do not learn from experience… we learn from reflecting on experience.”

 

From Switzerland to Israel with love: examining (digital) neutrality

After dropping out of the Coetail world for a couple of weeks, (and the online world in general–”vacationing” with twin toddlers in Israel with limited wifi…my activity reduced 

Requisite charming vacation pic posted

Requisite charming vacation pic posted

to lying in bed late at night with my phone, eyes blinded by tears, sand and exhaustion, but still determined to post those darn vacation pics!)

 

I returned home with my first assignment a week late and began to read the plethora of fellow Coetailers’ posts on the digital footprint.

I first read Amber’s post as she recently emailed me about a possible collaboration for course 2’s final project.  Amber reflects on her “personal vs professional” digital spaces and references articles warning us to avoid posting incriminating things in case your future boss sees.  (How you are embarrassing yourself online without knowing .) Why are these catchy and ominous titles so addictive?

I replied:

The quote about the innocuous statements you make on facebook really struck me…as I think about “liking” references to 4.20, for example. (Or highlighting that fact here!) But in all seriousness, I would hope employers (and anyone judging someone entirely on what is posted on social media) take what they see with a grain of salt, and understand that people change and their understanding of what is appropriate and what is not changes…unfortunately for a lot of young kids, that learning curve is very public. You are right –it is part of our job to get kids thinking about their digital selves and digital etiquette. Already I have had discussions with my 4 and 5 year olds about posting questionable pictures of others–me included (!) to our class blog and we have had to come to certain agreements about this.

The opening lines of Layla’s post grabbed me.  She wrote a beautifully worded, researched and analyzed article discussing our quest for identity…and how the internet is changing how that quest is undertaken, and how it can be manipulated to work for or against us.  She references an article by Meredith Scroeder to highlight the idea that

removing chunks of information that violate one person’s right to forget may in fact violate another individual’s freedom of speech and right to know.”

This highlighted quote made me immediately think of this picture:

Okay--I went ahead and posted it...this is an exercise for educational purposes, surely a higher calling than mere entertainment.

Vacationing with toddlers can go from barely surviving the day to this at any point. Pooped on and naked in the street.

I respond to Layla:

Thank you for your thought provoking post and helpful links. Like Brendon, I also wonder similar things…what happens when the views or ideas we may have expressed in the past have changed, and yet the digital ties to us are there forever…or when our well meaning friends and relatives tag us in silly or even offensive posts…

I myself am currently debating whether to post certain hilarious to me pictures during a recent vacation, but potentially embarrassing to my children in the future. Should I be posting pictures of them at all? They are toddlers and can’t give their consent…

Okay–so I went ahead and posted it…this is an exercise for educational purposes, surely a higher calling than mere entertainment.Does my action violate my child’s right to forget? Or Dad’s right?

Next I read Jon’s post about moving from a neutral footprint (previously a focus in many inquiries into digital citizenship) to a deliberately positive footprint.  I was left worrying and wondering at my relative lack of footprint, thanks to this article and after taking Lisa Nielson’s Digital Footprint quiz and realised I need to work harder to put myself out there in a positive and proactive way.   

I wrote to Jon,

I liked your comment about moving your “neutral digital footprint to a positive one.”  I feel I had been mostly working hard (okay, not that hard) to maintain relatively neutral online, lest I offend someone.  This approach only works to a point, as you mentioned in your “scare tactics” with your first graders–“Posting mean things online will get you into a lot of trouble” or “How would you feel if someone said something rude to you online?”   But I see this neutrality has left me without much of a digital footprint at all.  (Darn, I’ll blame it on living in Switzerland!)

It’s actually harder work to continuously seek ways to showcase our positive contributions–we have to go out of our way to write nicely worded comments on someone else’s blog or Facebook posts…the ‘like” button is way too easy.  But this this effort is worthwhile in the end, and is a good way to move that neutral footprint (both ours and our students)  to a positive one.

 

From the security wall in the West Bank, Bethlehem.

Shot taken mid spray!  The security wall in the West Bank, Bethlehem.

 

Finally, it seems to me there is still a war of ideologies going on when it comes to Social Media & Technology in the classroom.  On the one hand there are articles like this, basically telling us to use common sense when using Facebook as teachers, but at the same time informing us of different school districts who have taken matters into their own hands and outright banning communication via all social media between teachers and students.  And then there are more progressive approaches to Social Media, and selling the importance of “having the opportunity to publish online with your name attached.”

While one approach takes away freedom of expression, the other encourages it.  If there is one thing I learned while traveling with toddlers in Israel-it’s that everyone wants to be free and be heard.