Being Good Citizens and Digital Citizenshttps

Monday afternoon I read a Blog from Edutopia on what students really need to know about digital citizenship in a Blog by Vicki Davis. Edutopia, founded by the Hollywood guy, George Lucas (Star Wars fame) says it’s a K-12 site, but I’ve gleaned many a suggestion off this site for many a thing. Vicki’s Blog really hit home with some really good advice because we had a conversation in class regarding digital bullying and privacy protections.

eagle scout badgeDigital communications today is everywhere and in everything. If you don’t participate or include it, you won’t be successful. I just assumed that most – if not all – of my traditional age students would be savvy to digital anything. But to have a student share in this day and age that they don’t understand how someone used their information and pictures in a very wrong way is surprising. I guess I just thought they understood digital citizenship, how to protect your information, copyright, and professionalism. Don’t students understand that the professionalism of academics vs. how they interact in social situations is different? I assumed they would. Don’t they understand that unintentional statements or actions in our global business and social environment can have some really bad unintended consequences? I assumed they would. Evidently, they don’t have the skills to work out problems either. Do we have to remind them to be intentional on what they share? Evidently so.

Ms. Davis’s blog was about students being good digital citizens and how it impacts all learning and communication. She talks about the “9 Key Ps” of digital citizenship and communication: Passwords, Privacy, Personal Information, Photographs, Property, Permission, Protection, Professionalism, and Personal Branding, and how to use these keys.

So, in today’s class after Sheila Jarrell talked about student records, transcripts, the importance and responsibility to ensure that information is correct, we talked about “digital citizenship” and what that means to them. We were all over the place! Even at week 11 in the semester, most did not really understand copyright, or rights of themselves and others who create intellectual property, or the importance of citation. They did not seem to get why they can’t use an image from Google and not go to the actual source to see if there is permission needed (oh, and then cite it).

I asked them what they have posted of Facebook / Twitter / LinkedIn right now – lots of sharing. Some had cell phone numbers and PO Boxes; even birthdays and addresses. Then I asked if they would share this with a co-worker. “Probably.” Would you share it with your supervisor? “Maybe Not.” Would you share it with the world? “No.”   I asked why. Responses were “Only my ‘friends’ will see it” – to “It doesn’t matter” – to “My privacy settings are good.” Really?!! Oh my goodness!

OK, so then we talked about information they saw or read on their media – what do they do with it? Well, they share it – they forward it – they respond to it – they slam it – whatever you can imagine, it’s done. Being a good digital citizen also means not using others’ information or property as well. Yep, that was confusing too. Frankly, I’m shocked. I will say, they did have a lot of knowledge on viruses and malware, but several of them had been hacked. Don’t ask me about their passwords (!!).digital think

The last part of class was that I could find them with little or no information. How surprised they were when I found them, their families, their addresses, and even their cell phones in a matter of minutes. So, if I can do this, what about a potential college, or an employer? We talked about what that employer might see and read. Some were deleting information immediately. (The conversation about where it goes will have to wait!)

Citizenship – digital citizenship – are abilities and awareness that students need to navigate the world, including communication in forms that have not even been created. Citizenship is what we do to fulfill our role as an inhabitant of the earth. Yes, I guess I expected these skills when they came to college and I, for one, was surprised that they didn’t have them. I wonder what experiences your students have had in your classes about citizenship .

Adaptability & A Theme Park – Part 2

In last week’s post I told you about my FYE103 Class and the “Adaptability” exercise involving a Theme Park presentation at a City Council Meeting and the groups involved in the discussion and decision.

Groups were given a Flip chart. They had 20 minutes to determine their position/arguments and address following questions to present to the town council:

  • What would your group like to happen to the land?
  • How does your decision affect the others in the scenario (i.e., people)?
  • How does this affect the environment in the short- and long-term?  What are your interests and priorities?

Each group presented to the town council (the class). A panel of ‘expert evaluators’ critiqued positions by asking questions of each group. They had 20 minutes to determine their position/arguments and address following questions to present to the town council:

  • What would your group like to happen to the land?
  • How does your decision affect the others in the scenario (i.e., people)?
  • How does this affect the environment in the short- and long-term?  What are your interests and priorities?

Group #1  –  A co-op of Family Commercial Farmers who own the land and are torn between cultivating it and selling to developers.

Group #2 –   A group of local conservationists who wish to preserve the land for endangered species and recreational activities, such as bird watching, hiking, etc. This land was given to the City by a founding family who wish it preserved for all wildlife, but did not state thus in the will.

Group #3 –  A Lumber Company that wants to harvest timber from the land. This company harvests the timber sustainably, and currently has harvesting rights with the landowners on the same property as the one wishing to be developed.

Group #4 – A group of townspeople who want the Theme Park and tourism revenue generated by it. One is the Mayor of the town; under pressure to lower taxes and increase tourism or business. One is a small business owner who would like to see increased business diversity and revenue. One is the Chamber, one is an unemployed lumber worker laid off because of dwindling timber supply.

So, what happened?! 

In Part I – Group discussion and presentations were WOW! The discussions were incredible.  Without being told to, they came up with various slogans:  “Adapt or Die”; who needs Timber anyway? Jobs-Jobs-Jobs!  Say No to Development!   Remember, your house is built from our land! Save the wolves – and their friends! What kind of business do you want here? How to have fun with your kids. Progress is coming!  They had some group members on the computer looking up statistics and articles on their behalf.  Right away, two of the groups talked about how they could work with other groups to provide “development with a heart”, and would share the property.

In Part II – Each group was given 5 minutes to not only rebut any negative statements, but to find a way to work with at least ONE other group on this project.  Well, not only did they do this, but they ALL came up with ways to work with ALL groups!  Here’s how:

  • Group #1 Co-op Farmers would  grow and harvest crops for the food service in the Theme Park in exchange for a large enough area to do this (5 acres); they would work with Group #2 to have them help with growing and taking care of the land and its animals;  they would work with Group #3 to buy the timber to both build raised beds in the gardening area, but also a planting shed, and fence between them and the Theme park; they would work with Group #4 to have a pick-your-own area for locals, and locals get special prices into the Theme park and its restaurants.
  • Group #2 Conservationists would provide personnel in particular Eco-areas of the Theme Park, as well as guided tours in exchange for 20 acres and the park being open from 9 am – 6 pm daily, and not at night so as to not be light-polluting to birds and other wildlife; they would allow Group 1 to grow and harvest crops for local eateries; they would allow the Timber Company to not only harvest usable timber, but also build benches and other structures for birdwatching and other wildlife viewing.  They would also provide activities and classes for the Theme park on endangered species.
  • Group #3 Lumber Company would work with Group #4 to provide ‘green’ buildings and work to leave as many trees as possible on the land; they would work with Group 1 to only clear what was on their 5 acres; build their raised beds, and also provide mulch for crops and walkways; they would work with Group 2 to provide mulch for walkways and structures for animal watching.
  • Group #4 Theme park developer decided to work with the town to use sustainably harvested timber on their buildings, but also crops from the Farmers Co-op in any eatery or food service on the park grounds.  It would also provide an eco-themed activity for Group #1 and #2 for all patrons into the park.  They would also give local residents a discount, and only be open daylight hours.

I was impressed by the way they discussed and analyzed this information, but especially impressed by the way all groups wanted to work with others – not because I told them to do so.

 

Adaptability & A Theme Park

Adaptability:park 2

  • (Latin: adaptō “fit to, adjust”) is a feature of a system or of a process. Adaptability in humans is a personality trait, and refers to how long it takes a person to adjust to change over time (as opposed to an initial reaction). Adaptation is about leaving – or being forced from – your comfort zone.

Adaptability is about change. Every second of every day, we are adapting to change – and we must. As Henry Louis Menken … said “Change is not Progress”. You can change and still not adapt to differences to move forward.  Adaptability is always values-based, and yet values can change throughout your life. When you meet a situation for the first time that requires you to adapt in some way, your “line in the sand” is always your values.

So, what does this have to do with a Theme Park? Well, in my FYE 103 class, a lot. In discussing adaptability, I didn’t want to just show a movie or PowerPoint, so I used a “Theme Park” as a way to think about our values – our adapting to others’ views – our adapting to change, which is what college is all about (especially that first year). Here’s how it was laid out:

park 1The Park: Theme Park developers from New York want to construct a theme park on a particular large tract of land in your town, which is a natural habitat for an endangered species of wolf. This tract is also adjacent to other large tracts – one owned by a sustainable timber company, which offers both jobs and recreation for the town, and the other a long-time family farm. Your town has struggled to bounce back from the recession a few years ago, and some businesses have closed or cut back. The town’s population is approximately 10,000, but is on the outside edge of a large metropolitan ‘hub’ with a variety of big-box stores, small business, shopping, hotels, cinemas, and the like with a population of about 55, 000.

The Community Council is meeting tonight. As you can imagine, there is a lot of debate, angst, and accusations in your community. There were basically four groups attending the Community Council to make a presentation on their view:

  1. Three-generation family farm who own the land and are torn between cultivating it and selling to developers.  One of you has a child who wants to attend college abroad; thus, there is pressure for immediate income. One of you has an elderly parent who needs income
  2. Conservationist group who wish to preserve the land for endangered species
  3. A Lumber company that sustainably harvests timber from the land, and has a current agreement for this property to harvest a portion of the timber
  4. Townspeople who want the tourism revenue generated by either a natural preserve or amusement park

Process

Groups were given a Flip chart. They had 20 minutes to determine their position/arguments and address following questions to present to the town council:

  • What would your group like to happen to the land?
  • How does your decision affect the others in the scenario (i.e., people)?
  • How does this affect the environment in the short- and long-term?  What are your interests and priorities?

Each group presented to the town council (the class). A panel of ‘expert evaluators’ critiqued positions by asking questions of each group.

Group #1     A co-op of Family Commercial Farmers who own the land and are torn between cultivating it and selling to developers.

One has a child who wants to attend college out-of-state; thus, there is pressure for immediate income.  One has an elderly parent who needs income.  One is aging yourself and could use the money for your retirement funds.

Presented information on:

  • Statistics on farm-to-market increased sales
  • Statistics of people who want fresh, organic produce – to buy and at restaurants
  • Farming areas that are changing in the news – stories of developers changing the landscape, but keeping local flavor

Group #2    A group of local conservationists who wish to preserve the land for endangered species and recreational activities, such as bird watching, hiking, etc. This land was given to the City by a founding family who wish it preserved for all wildlife, but did not state thus in the will.

This time it’s wolves but your group has won cases before on other endangered animals as well.

One is the one spearheading this organization, is the former landowner’s great grandson. One is the Club President; most of you are wealthy, powerful members. One  is a hired lobbyist for this group. Most other members are also members of the Sierra Club and other conservationist organizations.

Presented information on:

  • Statistics on conserved land given by individuals; surrounding land of the Nature Conservancy; Sierra Club; Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation
  • Statistics on other conserved land developed in a good way – one that conserves land as well as developing for business
  • Stories of land that has been preserved and why; or land that is shared and why

 Group #3     A Lumber Company that wants to harvest timber from the land

Your company harvests the timber sustainably, and currently have harvesting rights with the landowners on the same property as the one wishing to be developed.

One is the company’s right-of-way representative, and believe the developers are encroaching on neighboring land for which harvesting rights have been in place for a 100 years.  One is a landowner on whose property the Company harvests timber. One  is the spouse of a nearby lumber-mill employee whose mill has seen decreasing timber in an increasing population.

Information presented:

  • Company reputation for sustainable timber harvest; you even give away Christmas trees to the local population
  • Growth of population in the area; lack of available housing
  • Cost of construction materials; lack of building materials nearby, thus making new construction and remodeling expensive
  • Statistics/articles on timber companies sharing resources with landowners, developers, and conservative groups
  • Loss of job in the area with loss of timber jobs

Group #4 – A group of townspeople who want the Theme Park and tourism revenue generated by it.

One is the Mayor of the town; under pressure to lower taxes and increase tourism or business. One is a small business owner who would like to see increased business diversity and revenue One is the Chamber One is an unemployed lumber worker laid off because of dwindling timber supply

Information presented:

  • Stats on revenue being generated by tourism development and theme parks
  • Articles on theme parks and types of businesses added because of it
    • Areas like Disneyland and Disney World; 6 Flags, and the surrounding areas
  • Increased jobs from tourism and / or theme parks
  • International tourism

We had “Experts” in our audience who asked questions of the 4 groups:

Expert #1                                                                                                          

A farm1representative from the Family Farmer Co-op member who owns land in the next county, but on the opposite side of land to be developed.  They have been approached by these developers as well; they are torn between keeping and cultivating your land, or selling.

He/she chose to keep your farm because of the resurgence of the farm-to-table movement in recent years, and you have seen a marked increase in sales to local grocers and restaurants. They know that several farmers sell overseas, and it’s been a real boon to the co-op too. Membership has increased to include both grocers and restaurant owners in your area, and you are getting pressure from them to leave it as it is – great farmland.  They also have Co-op members who have given up farming – their kids don’t want to take it over – some went to work in town to send their kids away to college; some have aging parents; some are aging themselves and could use the money.

Expert #2                                                                                                                             

A local Chamber of Commerce Director who would like to see the land preserved, but who also has seen increased tourism revenue generated by either both natural preserves and amusement parks. This type of development could be a real boon to the area, but would like to see it scaled back a little, and understand the mixture of feelings from the townspeople.  He/she has Chamber members and friends who own small businesses or manage some of the big box stores – and some involved with the entertainment industry who have put some pressure on you to increase traffic and revenue in the area.  This person is considering running for Mayor next term, so you want to maintain good relationships with whoever ‘wins’ this debate.

Expert # 3  farm2                                                                                                                         

A retired Lumber Company Executive who understands the needs of population boom in the immediate and surrounding areas and the lack of affordable housing. He/she has seen timber prices increase substantially, but they are also an avid outdoors person who understands that conservation and conservative timber harvest can and do work.   This person has stayed in the area, but have seen taxes increased because of the lack of new business and jobs available, and have considered moving. This person has friends still working at the Lumber Company. He/she knows the Mayor and the Chamber Director.

So, what happened?

Part I: Group discussion and presentation. OK – now the fun begins.  WOW! The discussions were incredible.  Without being told to, they came up with various slogans:  “Adapt or Die”; who needs Timber anyway? Jobs-Jobs-Jobs!  Say No to Development!   Remember, your house is built from our land! Save the wolves – and their friends! What kind of business do you want here? How to have fun with your kids. Progress is coming! 

They had some groups members on the computer looking up statistics and articles on their behalf.  Right away, two of the groups talked about how they could work with other groups to provide “development with a heart”, and would share the property.

Anyway, Part II will explain who adapted to whom and what, and what finally occurred during the Council Meeting…stayed tuned!

Tangents

Tangent2Todd’s message referring us to Harvard’s Teaching & Learning last week was interesting – and Joe Blatt’s “Three Puzzles of Pedagogy got me to thinking. He states his second mystery is “the paradox of preparation.  I can’t go into a class session without a detailed map of the points I want to convey, plans for discussions and other activities I hope students will find engaging, and an explicit list of the ideas I want students to leave thinking about.” He states further that this preparation gives him the “chance to be more spontaneous.”

I agree, especially when you have class two times a week for 1-1/2 hours. It goes fast!

Going off on tangents – sometimes – is a good thing. I make detailed notes on each class; then I go back and rank my notes – yes, rank them according to the time I have. What’s the most important topic / things I want students to know when they leave class? Oh, I want to give them interesting content, sure, but also some great resources or links to find out more.

But most of all, I want to give them inspiration to go beyond what’s written in the textbook – what’s on the PowerPoint or Video or Prezi – what’s beyond the discussion in the class or online.   I want to give them a reason to look further – to go beyond that day or class’s learning – to be inspired by a story.

So. Think about “tan·gent”; from the Latin tangent, or “touching; from the verb, tangere. Some definitions:

  1. A straight line or plane that touches a curve or curved surface at a point, but if extended does not cross it at that point.
  2. A completely different line of thought or action. “He quickly went off on a tangent about wrestling”
  3. Mathematics: the trigonometric function that is equal to the ratio of the sides (other than the hypotenuse) opposite and adjacent to an angle in a right triangle.

 

 A straight line or plane that touches a curve or curved surface at a point, but if extended does not cross it at that point.

 Think about this in terms of teaching. How many times do we focus on our “point”, and approach it in many ways; bending and curving our way to ‘touch’ students – without crossing – so that they come into their own understanding to the subject. Sometimes when I ‘go off on a tangent’ – I may seem like I’m wandering in the beginning. It may be a personal observation or story. It may be an event that I can then tie back into my subject. I always have the plan to come back to the subject.

 A completely different line of thought or action. “He quickly went off on a tangent about wrestling”

Sometimes, a totally different or new thought expands the subject and the class lesson – Students thing about a topic in a whole new way. For example, if I’m teaching horticulture and the zones of plant species, my tangent may go to farm-to-table, or hunger, and the effects on plant diversity. The subject is still horticulture, but the tangent enhances my subject. In teaching business, my tangents are usually about entrepreneurs and how they change the local economy (for good and bad). I might go off on a tangent – or tell a story of owning my own business – on how certain business changed the economic landscape. Again, the topic is the same; my plan is in place, but the tangent makes is interesting and more in depth.

Mathematics: the trigonometric function that is equal to the ratio of the sides (other than the hypotenuse) opposite and adjacent to an angle in a right triangle.

OK – I’ll have to ponder this one! In Business Communications, we have a ‘trial’ on a current event. SO, I guess I’ll take off on a tangent equal to the “right side” opposite [to the affirmative side] and adjacent to an angle [uncommitted side] in a right triangle [OK, I’m really lost!] Perhaps this one won’t work!

tangentSo, try going off on a tangent in your class. Make sure that class plan is in your pocket, but allow yourself the freedom to be spontaneous. Who knows, your students may just have some fun learning.

The Value of Formatting

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Formatting.  No, not a document, class formatting. I don’t know about you, but it seems like I try to stuff too much into class most of the time. Not because I want to, but because I want to share as much as I can with students. Everything is just “too important” or “really necessary”. So much info – too little time! How to cover everything? I really did not realize that I had the same organization until a student pointed it out to me by telling me how much he appreciated the same activities each class. After thinking about it, I realized I do have a ‘format’ to class. Here’s a couple of things that help me: 1) set up groups early in the class, and 2) use a standard format for each week:  Set a Theme – Do Reading – Talk -Watch – Discuss – Do.

Groups:

To set up groups, I use colored card stock (4 colors, depending on number of students); each color is a group. So, whenever I tell the class to get into groups, I don’t have to waste time with counting off, or rows – they just get into groups. I do allow them to change if they wish.

Format:

  • The theme usually follows the textbook content, and I build everything else around it. For example, if the chapter is on writing a business summary, the theme might be e-Commerce. Everything else, then, is in the same theme.
  •  The reading is done outside of class from the chapter and outside reading from newspaper articles to web sources based on the theme.
  • We talk in class about what the theme – maybe some history or current events – and the goals for the week and for assignments and projects.
  • I usually show a video on the subject (as current as possible) or my own presentation, but no more than 8-10 minutes max. (OK – if we are pressed for time, this may not be shown.)
  • Then we discuss the reading, discussions, and video in class, and any questions that may arise thus far.

 

  • The “do” is usually in a group or with partners. It can be a quiz, pair and share, a journal writing, or assignments that are completed over a couple of classes.

For example, if I give a quiz, I may give it twice. The first time individually, which gives me a snapshot of their content knowledge. If time, I do the same quiz in their groups where the content is discussed and deliberated, and the answers are determined collectively and by consensus. Students study (and learn) content so they can pass the quiz, and then they learn more as their discussion with group allows them to understand it more deeply. It also helps them practice critical thinking skills. If it’s a project to reinforce learning, they must keep within the theme, and they sometimes work on and complete the project outside of class. For example, this might be time to work on a marketing summary, or class presentation.

Do I still try and put too much into every class? Yep. But I find that creating groups and keeping to a format really does help me see what’s been covered. It also helps create continuity so students know what to expect each class period. Any suggestions?