Category Archives: #digcit

On The Record

Screen Shot 2016-09-04 at 8.24.38 PMAs we are finishing up this massive and totally awesome collaborative Pokémon Go project, I want to publicly go on the record and I’ve asked others to join me.

First, I have known William Jenkins for years. How many, I’m not exactly sure, but I’ve been moderating the #digcit chat since 2011 and prior to this tweet in November 2015, I always seemed too busy to respond to any of his email invitations to collaborate. What a big mistake.

The tweet with the link above was not only a jackpot site of digital citizenship resources via Malcolm Wilson, but it represents how William is always sharing resources with educators.

DigCitSummitUK TweetAfter this tweet, I responded and asked if he would like to Skype or GHO to talk about the possibility about bringing the Digital Citizenship Summit to the UK. We arranged a time to Skype and the rest is history.

Do you know what this picture below represents? It is a sextant, known as the most essential instrument for navigation. Since that first Skype call in November, William has been just that for me. Over the past ten months, I have been lucky enough to be part of two pirate crews with him (#DigCitSummitUK pirates and #ISTEPirates16) and most recently, I’ve been part of a Niantic crew with him collaborating on a #digcit Pokémon Go project.

cmgrWhat William brings to any project is vision and execution. His attention to detail is exquisite. William is like a conductor and he anticipates and prepares meticulously. What distinguishes William from the rest? His core values. He does not compromise. His core values and work ethic are beyond anything I have every witnessed before. One PLN member shared, “His work ethic is unsurpassed.” Others used terms like visionary leader, selfless giver and influencer. All agreed that no one should ever pass up an opportunity to collaborate with William in the future.

I reached out to some PLN members and they echoed my thoughts:

Best New Community Manager

5 Minute Favor For William Jenkins: A Selfless Giver

As a mother and educator, my last acknowledgment comes from the bottom of my heart.

William, thank you for inspiring Curran. As a nine year old, his connected learning journey began with your DigCitSummitUK Thunderclap which was the beginning of his @CurranCentral Twitter handle. That thunderclap has led to him moderating multiple chats on Twitter, speaking and live tweeting at the DigCitSummitUK and TEDxYouth, becoming a student Buncee ambassador and now CKO of DigCitKids. Thank you for also continuing to inspire him to think outside of the box and create homework assignments like the Pokémon Go Homework Challenge and most recently, the 9 #digcit elements in relation to Poké Balls.

So, on the record, I am so grateful to call you a friend, a colleague and my favorite community manager.

Pokemon Go #DigCitPLN Update

As I write this post, I am singing along with the Scottish duo, The Proclaimers, “I would walk 500 miles…” Although I haven’t quite walked 500 miles in search of Pokemons, I certainly have joined in on the excitement that has captured the attention of all ages across the globe.

Screen Shot 2016-08-14 at 4.33.45 PMMy previous post, Pokemon Go…Catch Some #DigCit Advice #DigCitPLN, has led me to further examine the role of digital citizenship in regards to Pokemon Go and has had me outside and playing with my son. In fact, he has recently recognized educator, Ryan Read as the DigCitKids #DigCitAward recipient for embedding all nine digital citizenship elements into Pokemon Go!

This post is an update and further looks at the potential of Pokemon Go in Education, an idea that the ISTE DigCit PLN is going to be exploring to see if the project can help play a role in helping schools and educators assess the educational value of the game.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been collaborating with the organizer of the UK Digital Citizenship Summit, William Jenkins, and Ramona Pierson and her team at Declara to curate articles about Pokemon Go in education.

We will be producing a DigCit PLN Pokemon Go Safety Advice document as well as a report that looks at how the game was adopted so quickly and what educators can learn from those methods, how universities, libraries and museums are using the game, the health benefits and the social impact the game is having on people around the world.

Our research and the articles we’ve read suggest that this is something worth exploring. The reactions have included a full range from skepticism to complete adoption.

Collaborating with William during #DigCitSummitUK and Ramona and the Declara team on this project, I have a better appreciation of things like the “The Technology Adoption Cycle,” and how ideas and technology get adopted.

Can anything be done to test this game before bringing it into the classroom? We think there is.

Here are some of the extracts and insights that we’ve read about for students to write stories about Pokemon Go:

Currently, Pokémon Go doesn’t have much storytelling built in about the places people are going to; players simply find their Pokémon and head to the next location

Since students already have their phone in their hands, have them use the Google Street View app to take a 360° spherical panoramic image of the Pokestop

Have students write a short piece about their personal reflection of the game.

Perhaps players visit a location, and then see archival news stories related to that location

perhaps players notice something in that location that’s worthy of a news story in and of itself.

Right now, Pokémon Go doesn’t have much storytelling built in about the places people are going to; players simply find their Pokémon and head to the next location

Get learners to create a digital poster, presentation, comic, or video of what makes a good trainer.

Your students can then create presentations or digital posters about their top three favorite Pokémon.

Ask your learners to work in pairs or small groups and come up with a list of five to ten safety tips and good practices for players. Some ideas include having an non-playing adult present, not playing in the streets, practicing good judgment, and exhibiting good manners

Once your learners play the game, have them write a digital story of their experiences battling or capturing a Pokémon

When playing the game with my son, we have found some really interesting Pokestops and have been disappointed when there has been little or no description of the Pokestop:

It would be nice to have a detailed history of the places you visit and may want to revisit or research more on.

Unfortunately, the app’s “journal” tracks only the time and date of each Pokéstop, but does not identify the place by name.

In Putting Education in “Educational” Apps: Lessons From the Science of Learning the article highlights that:

Apps that encourage children to connect new information to their daily lives, for example, by learning about triangles by taking pictures of triangles they see in their home, will provide a more effective learning experience than an app that in which children simply pick a triangle out of a line-up of different shapes.”

We further explored how the Pokestops were created and that a description was one of the ways to increase the chances of getting a portal accepted but was not compulsory (See the Ingress Candidate Portal criteria post for more details).

The DigCit PLN Pokemon Go report that we are working on will highlight what Kipp Founder, Mike Fienberg argues that great Edtech facilitates “Great teaching… and more of it.” By this, he means that great EdTech tools either free up educators time by removing administrative tasks to ensure that teachers can spend longer in the classroom, or it facilitates learning outside of school hours.

If we add some of the things that we’ve explored about Pokemon Go so far, these are our observations:

  • Understanding educators desire to explore Pokemon Go
  • Realizing the need to test with some pilots before “scaling”
  • Appreciating that there is hesitancy as some educators may be thinking “here we go again…the new next big thing in education”
  • Kids will be playing Pokemon Go whether educators like it or not…whether the game is banned or not
  • We agree with some of the comments from the blogs above that we should be using all learning opportunities
  • Anything that facilitates “Great teaching and more of it” is what good EdTech should do, so Pokemon Go has potential
  • That not all the Ingress Portals/Pokestops have a description

This is the idea that we’ve come up with, that we hope will allow any educators who are advocate of Pokemon Go to test the games potential and hopefully establish some evidence and case studies before taking this into the classroom.

Pokemon Go Homework Challenge
The DigCit PLN and DigCitKids have come up with an idea.  Here’s something we can all easily do to amplify student voice in this conversation.

Let’s ask our students to assess if Pokemon Go has any educational value. Let’s have our students write a description about local Pokestops. For example, ask students to answer the following questions:

  1. What is the Pokestop?
  2. When was the Pokestop created?
  3. Why was the Pokestop created?
  4. Who was the architect/designer/artist?
  5. Did you notice the Pokestop before you played Pokemon Go
  6. How many stories and articles did you find about the Pokestop
  7. What did you know about the Pokestop before you researched the Pokestop?
  8. What did you know about the Pokestop after you researched it?
  9. Write the description that you’d like to see about the Pokestop on Pokemon Go

Have a competition between Team Instinct, Mystic and Valour to see which team in your school supplies the most and /or best descriptions.

Post the student responses at schools/libraries and museums that you know welcome Pokemon players and/or who have Pokemon Go noticeboard…promoting student work while doing some school community outreach and educating other players: A real win-win scenario, all outside of school time!

We would welcome educators and students to also record these details on the following link:

Pokemon Go Homework Challenge

We will then ensure that these stories are shared with the DigCit PLN and DigCitKids and others in our network who subscribe to our Pokemon Go updates.

To receive these updates and/or to join our DigCit Pokemon Go Steering Committee please complete the details on the following link: DigCit Pokemon Go Contact Form.

We’d like to thank William Jenkins at Tech Stories and Ramona Peirson at Declara for all their help with developing our Pokemon Go Digital Citizenship resources.

Here is a link to the Pokemon Go Collection on Declara that we have curated to date, and which will for the basis of the DigCit PLN’s Pokemon Go back to school advice.declaratechstories

Red Alert: The App is Not the Problem

the app is not the problem (2)I can no longer remain silent about this.

I’ve seen posts warning parents about the dangers of this app and that app with all sorts of sensational headlines. But, I have a spoiler alert for you: The app is not the problem.

We are so afraid that we can’t control or monitor what our teens are doing that we’ve labeled certain apps as “RED ALERT” when that red alert should really be placed on us. I get it though, it is easier to place blame on the app than to acknowledge or address the source of the problem.

Blocking and banning certain apps or sites will not change behaviors. Look at all the violence happening around our world. Somehow, we have forgotten that we are all members of the human race and what happens to one of us — happens to all of us. To quote from one of my all-time favorite movies, the Dead Poet Society, “That you are here — that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play *goes on* and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?”

So, the solution begins with each of us. It’s time to contribute our verse to this critical conversation. We need to engage, educate and mentor our society on the choices and consequences of being human. We need to model what respect for ourselves and others really looks like and to invest in building community wherever we go.

I think the hack needed for education really begins and ends with the ability to humanize the person next to us, as well as across the screen. When we can do this, we can change culture and build communities at the local, global and digital level simultaneously.

Let’s stop the blame game, address the underlying problem and celebrate what makes us human.  

Be in the Moment: Going Device Free to Fenway Park

What I wouldn’t do to have a picture of me and my dad in the bleachers at Fenway Park. But, when I was a kid falling in love with a baseball team in the late 70’s, no one brought a camera to a sporting event, except the newscasters. The rest of us, well, we sat back and enjoyed the game.
Screen Shot 2016-06-05 at 9.23.09 AM

This is exactly what I’m going to do today with my son. I am going to practice what I preach and I’m going device free.

Although I’d love nothing more than an album full of pictures of being a kid growing up at Fenway Park, the memories and images I have in my mind are crystal-clear. I don’t need a picture to remember when Don “Gerbil” Zimmer was our coach, Carlton “Pudge” Fisk was our catcher and how George “Boomer” Scott delighted us with every crack of the bat. If I was distracted, it was because I was scoring the game with my dad or bugging him to find the hotdog vendor. I wasn’t a prisoner behind a device trying to catch the big play and upload it for all my friends to see, I was in the moment with my dad and a crowd full of fans cheering on their home team.

Today, I’ll repeat that experience with my son. So, Big Papi hit a home run today because we will be totally present and will capture the moment without being behind a screen!

Digital Citizenship Summit Heads to Twitter HQ in October

Unexpectedkindness is themost powerful,least costly, andmost underratedagent of humanchangeThis week’s announcement about the Digital Citizenship Summit being held at Twitter Headquarters on 28 October is such an incredible opportunity for the entire digital citizenship global community that I wanted to write this post to thank all the people who have supported us from the very beginning. There have so many people behind the scenes, volunteers, speakers, and supporters from around the globe. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for being part of this critical conversation and continuing to move it forward into your classrooms and communities.

Believing that nothing happens in a vacuum or by accident, I also wanted to write this post to thank all the people who have personally supported me from the very beginning of my digital citizenship journey. I am indebted to numerous people for casting light on my journey and am so grateful to my PLN for graciously sharing their time, talent and passion with my students over the years.

For me, the making of the Digital Citizenship Summit happened long before our inaugural event last October at the University of Saint Joseph in West Hartford, Connecticut. In fact, my journey started years ago before I even had my first email address or mobile device. As a middle school teacher, I was always student-centered and focused on meeting the developmental needs of young adolescents. My interest in amplifying student voice has always been my True North and reason behind any and all decisions I’ve made during my educational career.

Although Tyler Clementi was the student who changed my perspective and inspired me to change my practice, he was never a student in my classroom.

I did not know Tyler, but his suicide made me determined to focus on a solution. Tyler Clementi could be my son, your son. He was a brother, grandson, nephew, cousin, friend, neighbor, and most importantly, a human being. This perspective launched me into uncharted territory. I am the mother of a son. What if this was my son? What can I do to make sure this doesn’t happen again? How can I make a difference?

In many ways, Tyler Clementi was the impetus behind my First Year Seminar course, Pleased to Tweet You: Are You a Socially Responsible Digital Citizen? My definition of digital citizenship is a direct result of the iCitizen Project which asks students to think and act at a local, global and digital level simultaneously. By 2011, I was tired of digital citizenship being an add-on to the curriculum, as well as edtech and bullying conferences. I knew digital citizenship needed its own space and that’s why I created and designed 3 credit courses specifically around the nine elements of digital citizenship at both the undergraduate and graduate level. In February 2012, I also planned and hosted my first livestreamed event, the iCitizenship Town Hall Meeting for both a live and virtual audience and just like the Digital Citizenship Summit, none of this would have been possible without the support of countless people.

As I reflect on the people who have supported me, I am reminded of just how many students and educators have virtually joined my digital citizenship courses and participated in the #digcit chat on Twitter over the years. Week after week, members of my PLN graciously shared their time, talent and passion with my students through Twitter, Skype and Google Hangout. I could seriously write a book on the entire experience, but for this blog post, I’ll share one of my favorite virtual guests, Jeremiah Anthony, a high school student from Iowa. Jeremiah Skyped and live tweeted, Stand Up & Speak Out with Digital Citizenship with my undergraduates. He demonstrated how it takes just one person to make a difference in your community both on and offline.

There have been so many people over the years who have been that one person to me and I just want to publicly thank anyone who has ever supported me through all my digital citizenship courses, projects, Twitter chats and conferences, including the iCitizenship Town Hall Meeting, Digital Citizenship Summit and the Digital Citizenship Summit UK. It has been a privilege and an honor to learn alongside a global network of students, educators, parents and the edtech industry as we collectively continue to solve problems and create solutions together.

So, from my middle school classroom in the early 90’s to my college campus in West Hartford to Bournemouth Univeristy in the UK to Twitter Headquarters — thank you, thank you for being part of this incredible journey.

My heart is full.

Leading With Digital Citizenship: Let’s Break The Internet With Kindness

Although digital citizenship is not a new term or concept, the stories we generally hear tend to focus on safety and what our students should avoid.  To me, digital citizenship is everyone’s responsibility and we need to carve out time and space for our students to actively do it.  We need to switch the focus and highlight the positive ways our students are using social media.  The more student examples we can share on what to encourage (instead of avoid), will help our students practice being safe, savvy and ethical.

Personally, I’m tired of reading scare-tactic posts on how students are using social media in inappropriate ways.  After seeing this post, 8 Ways Kids Are Using Instagram to Bully on my digital citizenship (#digcit) Twitter feed, I had had enough of all the negative stories and I decided to flip the script and ask students to show us all the positive ways they use social media.

Let's Break the Internet with Kindness (1)Why aren’t the stories about the students I know and work with or the classrooms I follow on Twitter trending?  Why don’t these stories make national headlines?  Why does the media sensationalize the negative stories?  Determined to break the Internet with kindness, I tweeted out my challenge asking students to tell a different story.

The tweet got a lot of positive reaction and two members of my PLN took me up on my challenge and blogged about their experience.  High school history teacher, Rachel Murat who also teaches a digital citizenship course had her high school students use the opportunity to examine how Students Spread Happiness to Combat Haters and Trolls. The students examined how to combat trolls and haters and created videos like Passing on Positivity.

My #digcit co-moderator and Mobile Learning Coach, Jennifer Scheffer had her @BHSHelpDesk students reflect on the positive ways they use social media, 12 Students Speak Out About Digital Citizenship.  The big take-away is negativity breeds negativity and positivity breeds positivity.  High school senior and Digital Citizenship Summit speaker, Timmy Sullivan shared how he uses social media:

Clearly my experience leveraging social media (Twitter, LinkedIn, my blog) is taboo. But – dare I question the status quo again – why does it have to be? If we collectively divorce from the rhetoric of social media’s explicitly harmful nature, then we embrace the challenge to promote positive social media use in schools. Students can learn to leverage Twitter to build a global community of learners, use YouTube to share their content, connect with professionals via LinkedIn, and assert their voice through blogging. Through education, demonstration, and proactive conversation we can abolish cyber bullying- but we must first abolish our negative mentality.

My hope is that all students, everywhere have opportunities to go beyond just talking about digital citizenship and have time to “do” and create positive solutions just like the students in Rachel and Jennifer’s classrooms. Instead of disengagement and fear, we need to promote empowerment.  We need to create opportunities for our students to engage differently in a safe, savvy, and ethical manner and this needs to start early.  Our youngest students need to use technology to connect and collaborate with an authentic global audience.

In order to improve online (and offline) culture and create safe, savvy and ethical “digital citizens,” we need to actively engage students by embedding digital citizenship into our everyday curriculum.

By not teaching digital citizenship in schools, we are also denying the opportunity to empower students to think and act at a local, global and digital level simultaneously. When we help our students positively change their local community (school, neighborhood, town, state, region), we help change other communities in the process.

Let’s make digital citizenship a verb and help our students bridge the physical gap between communities by connecting, collaborating, learning and doing digital citizenship together with other students and classrooms around the world.  Let’s help our teachers and students become active citizens and enablers of positive change.  Let’s focus on empathy and help our students humanize the person next to them, as well as across the screen.

In many ways, it’s like skipping stones and I hope you will be a part of the ripple effect by amplifying student voice in your classroom by showing the world how social media is used in positive ways. Like Timmy Sullivan said, let’s question the status quo and let’s break the Internet with kindness.

*Contact the @digcit_chat moderating team if you’d like to join us for our SnapChat Challenge and join us on Friday, May 6th for a Google Hangout on Air with educators and students sharing their experiences using SnapChat in the classroom.


Charlie Brown on Digital Citizenship

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Poor Charlie Brown doesn’t get the respect he deserves. Generations have coined him as just a blockhead, but to me, he has always been so much more than just the underdog. Charlie Brown is my hero.

I would pick Charlie Brown as my 12th player a million times over any MVP.  He is the student I’d want in my classroom and the friend I’d want by my side every day of the week. Why? He is kind all the time, he’s principled and doesn’t just follow the crowd, he’s a problem solver and regardless of how many times he might come up short, he never, ever gives up.

Which begs the question: How would Charlie Brown be in the 21st century? What would happen if Charlie Brown had a device and was on social media? Charlie Brown would be exactly the same online as he is offline.

Charlie Brown is the model digital citizen.


Here’s the ultimate Charlie Brown lessons on digital citizenship:

Choose kind, every time. Regardless if Charlie Brown is on the baseball field, at school or directing a play, he is kind to everyone he meets. If Charlie Brown was online he would be part of the solution and not part of the problem. If he saw something mean or humiliating, he would not retweet or repost it. Just like Charlie Brown fills other people’s buckets with kindness, he’d fill their cyber buckets too.

Focus on your character. What you do when you think others are watching you is all about your reputation. What you do when you think nobody’s watching you is all about your character. Just like Charlie Brown, don’t just follow the crowd. Focus on your character. Don’t just do something because everyone is doing it. Instead, be more like Charlie Brown. Be loyal and consistent and regardless if you are on an anonymous site or you think your SnapChat will disappear, be socially responsible all the time.  

Solve problems, create solutions. In 2016, Charlie Brown would be a MakerEd maker, a TEDxYouth speaker, and a Genius Hour genius. He’d make guest appearances on a KidPresident video because just like solving problems offline, he’d be busy connecting and collaborating with a global network to make the world better.

Committed to changing his own community for the better, Charlie Brown not only reminds us all the about the true meaning of Christmas, he reminds us all what it means to be part of the human race.

Charlie Brown with digital access would change global communities using a variety of social media tools and if I were Charlie Brown’s teacher, I’d use #BeMoreLikeCharlieBrown as our class hashtag (or maybe I’d shorten it to #BMLCB).

Never, ever give up. This is Charlie Brown’s mantra. Although Lucy always moves the football the second he is about to kick it, Charlie Brown never gives up hope that he’ll get to kick the football. Every single time, he backs up and charges the football with such focus and clarity. Every time he approaches that football he believes that this is the time he’ll kick it.

Charlie Brown would most definitely apply this approach to being online and he would work on that blog post or that coding assignment until he had it just right. Just like students who understand the power of social media, Charlie Brown would constantly work on his online identity. He’d build up his digital portfolio and would stand out from his peers because he understands the importance of transparency and the need to humanize the person next to you, as well as across the screen.

So, the next time someone says, “Of all the Charlie Browns in the world, you’re the Charlie Browniest,” know that you just received the highest digital citizenship stamp of approval you could ever possibly receive.

Now go out there and be more like Charlie Brown.

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