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Technology Leadership Standard VI

Educational technology leaders understand the social, ethical, legal, and human issues surrounding the use of technology in P-12 schools and develop programs facilitating application of that understanding in practice throughout their district/ region/state.
A. Model and teach legal and ethical practice related to technology use.
B. Apply technology resources to enable and empower learners with diverse backgrounds, characteristics, and abilities.
C. Identify and use technology resources that affirm diversity.
D. Promote safe and healthy use of technology resources.
E. Facilitate equitable access to technology resources for all students.

 

“The major advances in civilization are processes that all but wreck the societies in which they occur.”- Alfred North Whitehead in The Medium is the Message (McLuhan, 1967)

If I am to expect my students to behave safely, responsibly, and ethically online, and with technology tools, then I need to first model the appropriate behavior and be able to discuss current issues in technology. Tools have gotten smaller, pocket-sized cameras, smart phones, etc. are common place in my high school classroom. In many of the rooms around my school these devices are banned because students might “misbehave” with them. I let students use the tools to empower their learning instead of keep them tucked into backpacks, but I make it clear when it’s appropriate and how to use them. Freshmen are encouraged to keep track of assignment due dates using their smart phone’s calendar and alarms, because they rarely lose their phones like they do a paper agenda. Juniors and seniors look things up in search engines, access their class Moodle, and write papers on Google Docs when all of the classroom computers are being used by others.  Students who have missed class might stop by to chat about an assignment and take a photo of the notes on the board, or other work that hasn’t made it’s way online. I show them that I regularly take pictures of physical projects that hang in the classroom to be used later on student sample galleries on my website. This modeling enables and empowers learners of different backgrounds, characteristics, and abilities because they are able to figure out how the technology tools work for their lives.

We also discuss current newspaper and magazine articles regarding repercussions of inappropriate use of technology; articles on students who are suspended for taking pictures in locker rooms, teachers who are fired after venting about students on Facebook, and college-age students who have lost job opportunities due to photo evidence of under-age drinking are all too numerous. The more we discuss and analyze the potential for harm, despite modeling good choices, the more my impulsive teenage students are likely to think twice about using technology tools in damaging ways. Though more teens find offline bullying to be more of an issue, cyberbullying does take place. In a 2006 study by the Pew Internet Project, 39% of social network users 12-17 years of age report having been bullied in some way, with older girls reporting bullying at 41% (Lenhart, 2007). Discussing these issues makes them seem less secretive and shameful, so that students will report and educators can address them, and helps students with their own decision-making.

At the beginning of the year students and parents sign media release forms for publishing student projects online, and tools agreement forms to allow students to use Web 2.0 tools that the district does not host. I make sure they understand exactly how things are used, the context of the tool and the curriculum, and the importance of publishing without revealing personal information.

As their teachers, it’s important that we understand how to appropriately use technology in our classrooms. The stereotypical teacher with his feet up on the desk while reading a newspaper has become the teacher shopping online from her desktop or playing Angry Birds on his iPhone during class. Teachers are professionals and know how damaging this kind of behavior can be for classroom management and reputations. In in-services I have shown examples of inappropriate use of copyrighted materials, including movies that, though purchased and connected to course content, require an additional site license for classroom viewing. I give credit for lessons and ideas that have come from other teachers, giving credit where it is due just as I expect them to do in projects and research papers. I model appropriate behavior for my colleagues as well as my students, so that ethical and responsible use of technology can begin to effect the atmosphere of the school.

I want to help create a school that exemplifies, “where the emphasis is on knowledge-building, deception is both undesirable and difficult,” (Davis, 2004). It’s not new technology that is the “problem” it’s how we avoid issues like cheating, until someone is caught. If I don’t teach students how to scan and summarize, how to quote sources, or why it is important to give credit to others, then I really can’t be shocked when I find evidence of plagiarism in a research paper. Certainly mistakes happen, and school should be about learning and correcting mistakes, not about always being perfect.

Davis, H. (2004). Ethics in a digital age: Beyond honor codes and punishment: Inspiring ethical behavior when it’s so easy to cheat. Threshold. Retrieved from: http://www.ciconline.org.

Lenhart, A (2007). Cyberbullying and Online Teens. Pew Internet & American Life Project. Retrieved June 24, 20011 from http://pewinternet.org/PPF/r/216/report_display.asp

McLuhan, M. (2000). The medium is the message. Corte Madera, CA: Gingko Press Inc.

 

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