Extension Learning Thing

I would love to do a “winter series” of blog posts for my Cooperative Extension peers on Digital Citizenship. Like, while we’re all huddled inside at -40F glued to our laptops because there’s nothing else to do… why not learn more about being a competent netizen.

So, my “Learning Thing” is going to be an outline of topics that I think I could write a weekly blog about that would be of interest to my coworkers and their clients.

Post: Orientation to Digital Citizenship

Possible links: 

Post: What Others in Extension are Writing about Digital Citizenship

Possible links:

My ultimate goal is to take the information I’ve curated through these posts and generate a set of factsheets that can be used at trainings and shared with the public. In Extension we have “numbered publications” that are research-based articles we offer through our catalog. When we have special events like Extension Week or a 4-H Leaders Forum, I sometimes will teach a class on topics like Online Privacy or What’s New with Facebook. I’d like to contribute something that would be available year-round: adding a Digital Skills set of publications to our Health, Home & Family section of the catalog.

Models of Digital Citizenship

1) The first “model” is explained in a video I found through reading Elisha’s learning thing. It was made by E. van Oyen (2012) based on the book Digital Citizenship in Schools by Ribble & Bailey.

The “9 Elements” in this model are:

Access, Commerce, Communication, Literacy, Etiquette, Law, Rights and Responsibilities, Health and Wellness, & Security

There is a nice summary of these elements in text form, and even some translated copies in Portuguese and Italian, from digitalcitizenship.net

2) The second “model” I consulted was the Digital Citizenship Curriculum by YouTube Curriculum (2012). The broad categories are: Policy, Flagging, Privacy, Online Reputation, and becoming a “Safe, engaged, confident online Netizen… across the wider web.” If you go to the Curriculum Playlist, you can find videos on Cyberbullying, Copyright, Cyber Tricks and more (the former three are what I’ve watched so far).

3) The third source consulted was the video on Digital Citizenship for Teachers by Dr. Sam Patterson (2013) which uses a Personal Learning Network (PLN) model. In this case the PLN defines the “mindset and practices that define good digital citizenship.” It covers Tools, Skills, Practices, and Values.

Questions and “Lenses”

The primary difference among these three models is in what each chooses to cover in a limited amount of time. The first model has more of a focus on feelings and the effects of our actions. The second model has more of a focus on following rules and being personally responsible. The third model has more of a focus on relationships and networks.

I liked Patterson’s “mindfulness” approach. Rather than follow a checklist of do/don’t prescriptions, which is rather passive, he wants learners to think critically about what they do online. One weakness is that he doesn’t give any background on what a PLN is within that particular video. I know a bit about them through iTeach, but for users who happen upon the video and are not familiar with PLNs, that omission will probably be a barrier to  understanding.

I would like to see an integration of these models- I think mapping out a PLN can be a useful tool for looking at what learners are doing, who they are already talking to, and what is missing or less connected with the rest. Listing what we’re using and where/with whom it is used helps orient us to how we’re already involved in the digital community. Then we can start to talk about how those connections are affected by issues like trust, respect, sharing… and how we can leverage the resources we’re connected with when we have questions or concerns.

I think the PLN piece resonates with me the most because of my background studying communication. As Patterson says, it’s not enough to “Be Kind” online, which is an oft-cited “rule” in other models. People need to “see you being kind to others online” in order for you to build credibility and trust. It’s more than refraining from over-sharing or making mean comments. You have to go beyond lurking and post some constructive, positive stuff publicly to start forming a reputation that is visible somehow on the web.

Thinking about Thinking

How has my thinking about digital citizenship has changed over the course of this class?

Before, I accepted copyright and intellectual property law as-is. They are long-standing and have benefits, so they must be great just the way they are, right? But the more I material I digested for class, the more I realized how continued challenges to and discussion of the law is important. Downsides were revealed. This started to tie in with some of the stuff I had read on net neutrality before the class, Basically, be very skeptical about who is making money as a result of a given law. I was surprised to read that it is really the distributors, not artists, benefiting from certain sharing restrictions.

Another plus from class is that I can make better arguments for why things that seem “silly” on the surface are actually meaningful and can teach us a lot about the evolution of technology. Memes and gifs would be examples. Sure, I often share them because they make me laugh and I want to share that humor with my friends. But there’s a lot more going on in terms of cultural commentary, disruption and other cool effects. Thanks, Chris and Doug!

What has come to seem more important? What has come to seem less?

In a work environment, I was always oriented to the top priority of being “compliant” with any existing laws, and not doing anything that will cost the company money or cause trouble. Thus, I tend to focus on “the rules” and err on the side of caution. However, when it comes to fair use, I think there have been some missed opportunities because I’ve been too afraid to assert my right to use things educationally. So I think I’m shifting the importance I place on the sacredness of copyright, because I’m tired of trying to reinvent the wheel instead of just adapting what’s already out there.

Also, I’m starting to realize that not all copyright claims are just. I’m still annoyed by the company we contracted with that claimed copyright to individual evaluation questions like “I would rate this instructor as…” Now, I know they can hold copyright on an entire student evaluation because their arrangement of questions as a whole is novel. But to tell me that I cannot create my own evaluation that contains the phrase “I would rate this instructor as” because they somehow have exclusive rights to that phrase in the English language? Grr…

What do I think of the whole idea of digital citizenship and how it relates to plain old citizenship?

Our cultural adages of “Don’t be a jerk” and “Treat others how you want to be treated” apply both online and off. So the checklist for being a “good” citizen is the same up to a point. It’s really a matter of thinking about the differences in context and how that might alter one’s behavior slightly when acting as a “good” citizen online versus offline. But the principles remain the same: Be informed, be courteous, be involved… Actually I just came across a great Citizenship infographic that compares the two.

How does my current understanding of digital citizenship influence how I work and play?

On a micro level, I take advantage of any opportunity to argue that “playing” with a new technology will somehow advance my professional development or add value to my work. Making an infographic of the course syllabus in Piktochart is not relevant to Cooperative Extension on the surface. But doing that activity means I am becoming more comfortable, and proficient at, creating materials that are directly useful to Extension, like a copyright handout for our agents. Similarly, the first few times I used Skitch I was just goofing around and adding sarcastic comments to photos I then sent to friends. But my familiarity with the tool allowed me to use it to more efficiently point out errors for our editor to fix on some Extension web pages.

On a macro level, I’m warming up to the idea that I have to be okay with putting myself “out there.” I’m an introverted and private person by nature, and I’m used to my mistakes and stumbles as a student being offline and unseen by anyone but the class. Putting all of my efforts on a publicly available blog is like being asked to learn a line dance during a live broadcast: I’m going to make some missteps. People will see them and judge me. I will shake it off and keep dancing, though, because the alternative is very lonely and boring.

Have any of my work routines or habits changed as a result of things I have learned?

My increased use of Twitter has led me to think about things in more of a “sound bite” manner. Even on platforms that allow many more characters, I try to be brief and just give the highlights, with links to the more in depth info. There’s so much cool stuff out there and I want to be more involved in it, but there are only so many hours in the day. I think I’m becoming more oriented to limited time and attention spans. I definitely “curate” more than I used to. I would love to take more time to be meta about my curations and look for patterns or revelations about what I save and when.

How will I be a digital citizen?

I always associate the concept of being an “informed voter” with the term “citizen.” So as a digital citizen, I am striving for a similar concept of being an informed user and sharer. I plan to keep learning, add improvements when I can, help the noobs, and support platforms and people that I think are moving humans in a positive direction.

Dog Mushing and Fair Use

The use of photos of sled dogs, not taken by me, is believed to be fair use because: This post is for educational use. No profit is sought or made by use of this photo. Only part of the photo is being used, and my educational notes or “critique” has been added. It is not known to be a photo from a professional photographer that would otherwise have been purchased. There was nothing on the photo to indicate the photographer’s name, so attribution was given by naming the organization and linking that name to a URL to where the photo was found.

String of dogs pulling a sled. At the front are lead dogs. In the middle are swing dogs. At the back are wheel dogs. All dogs are attached to a rope called a gangline.
Adapted from BLM photo from their Dog Sledding page at http://www.blm.gov/ak/st/en/prog/recreation/activities/trails/dogmushing.print.html

This photo, adapted from the Bureau of Land Management’s photo on their Dog Sledding site, is meant to teach you the basics of how a dog team is laid out. I cropped out part of the photo and used Skitch to add arrows and labels. All of these dogs are attached to a gangline, which is made out of a strong rope. The line connecting at the collar is the neckline. At the very front will be your lead dog(s). They are expected to be the first to respond to the left/right/stop (often haw/gee/whoa, respectively) commands from the musher. In the middle of the team, behind the leaders, are the swing dogs. They follow the leader(s) and help swing the team in the right direction.  At the very back, right in front of the bow of the sled, are the wheel dogs. They take the brunt of the weight and help power the whole team forward.

I wrote most of the previous paragraph from my own memory, having grown up with mushers and taken a team out several times in my youth. But these are ideas that were generated long ago by others. It’s always good to have documentation and fact-checking, so here is where you can find information that is congruent with my descriptions:

References consulted:

Metathinking about ADA

Task: Reflect on your experience performing one of the required collection activities. What did you find most challenging? What questions remain? Why do you think I required it? What advice would you give a student if you could travel into the future and give them advice?

The Fire Away: Lingering Questions assignment was actually the most difficult post because it required admitting that there’s a lot I don’t know about how ADA law interfaces with my job. It’s scary to stand up and say, “Hey, we’re probably not doing the best job we can do.” But, it’s the right thing to do to admit our shortcomings and work hard to improve. And in the event of a complaint, it also looks a lot better in court if you’ve made a demonstrable effort to learn the law and become more compliant.

I had a great conversation with some folks that work locally on ADA issues. We talked about the fact that a lot of faculty feel like they don’t need to spend time learning more about the ADA because they never get any accommodation requests. Whereas those of us who have read up on common challenges understand that 1) You HAVE had people in your classroom at some point who had a challenge; they just chose not to disclose, and 2) If you haven’t had anyone with a visible disability in your free workshops, it’s not because there’s no one with a disability interested. It’s likely because they don’t feel welcome! So the question remains, how do we best use our limited time and budget to reach out to diverse, underserved groups.

I think this assignment was required because being a digital citizen also means being a global citizen. Hello, it’s the “worldwide” web. And that means being welcoming to people of all types and abilities. I think part of digital fluency is being able to set up an environment where you can interact online with others regardless of their background.

If I could travel to the future to give a future student advice, I would say REACH OUT. Too many people are content to say “Well, I tried” and stop trying after they get a “Don’t know” or “Sorry can’t help” from the first place or two they call. I was guilty of that initially as well; after feeling defeated by D&EO on campus I didn’t pursue answers to my questions again until this assignment on ADA. With a better background and renewed determination, I managed to connect with two outstanding resources, Access Alaska and the Northwest ADA Center. You have to get over that feeling of, “But if I go outside my organization, I’m admitting we are deficient!” Take the risk. It will help you AND your organization grow for the better.

Get Productive: Silver Bullet Journal

I watched an intro bullet journal video and really liked the idea. I’m already a list-maker so this seemed like a good fit. I can see uses for this in both an electronic format (Word or Google docs) as well as good ‘ol pen and paper. If you’ve read my Yawp post, you know I retain an unshakable love for analog and the benefits of kinesthetic experiences.

The video had me hooked so I subscribed to the Bullet Journal YouTube channel. I chose this suggestion of a productivity aid over something like Evernote because it seemed simpler. I have looked over commentaries on Evernote before and just felt like it would take too much time to figure out how to navigate it and organize everything. It would be like buying a closet organizer but not having the time or energy to hang everything up, let alone color coordinate. But lists I can make.

I used Google Docs to start a Bullet Journal for September 2015. That link will allow everyone to view the sample, but not edit. 🙂

I really wish I had heard of this concept at the beginning of the class. I would have used it to keep track of all the assignments and done a better job of managing my time with posts. That was part of my advice in my post to future students– get organized with some sort of calendar system. A Google calendar is another great tool, since it holds descriptions and hotlinks, lets you add colors and icons, and will e-mail you reminders.

Grok and Krog: AldaJeanDanBrook

This is a discussion of similarities and differences among some of the “Fire Away” posts for this unit on ADA. I was interested in seeing if I was asking the same sorts of things others were. If my questions are different, what are others asking that maybe I should be asking too? It’s a useful exercise in reflecting on which parts of the material I feel confident in “knowing” and which parts I still struggle with.

I first read Jean’s ADA questions. Although we are concerned with different audiences, informal versus formal education, I share her desire for finding good training on this subject. I agree that campus seems to have a lot of resources online for employees at large (HR focus) but not for teachers specifically. That is, we are well informed of our rights as employees to ask for accommodation, but not as well informed on what to do when others are asking us for accommodations.

I then read Dan’s ADA questions, which Chris provided a response for. Dan’s questions were at a broader level asking about how the law was established (hallmark cases) and what it protects (ages and conditions). I was intrigued by the idea of whether it could be construed to cover eye strain. If we have a recognized syndrome (CVS) and a doctor agrees it significantly affects one’s daily activities and ability to access information, wouldn’t we have to make an accommodation? I agree with Chris’ advice that even without a legal mandate to accommodate, as instructors we should be thinking about how to assign and offer material that isn’t going to exacerbate such strain. Set your students up for success!

Lastly, I read Brook’s ADA questions. She asked about what other countries are doing. I know that could have some affect on where our laws go, but I’m more interested in what the law is, now, here so that I can help my students appropriately. I was most intrigued about Brook’s question on training. Jean had asked about training as well. We all want to feel well informed! Rather than wading through the varied-quality YouTubes, sites, PDFs, Prezis, etc. it would be great to have a list of “Top Ten Free and Reliable ADA Trainings.” I may be able to help here soon. I met with a rep from the Northwest ADA Info Center who said he’d send me a link to a good free training that would be appropriate for college employees.

Our focus on the “what if” scenarios is similar. I think ultimately we all are distressed by the idea that there are “fuzzy” areas of the law open to interpretation. We can’t fully prepare for what we may be faced with when it comes to making a decision about accommodations. We want to do the right thing, and pledge to do our best, but the fact that there are legal ramifications if we don’t get it right can be intimidating.


Advice for the New Crew

Use the first Your Choice > Make & Share assignment to do some sort of calendar, timeline, or reminder scheme to plan out how you will complete the workload of the course. There are many requirements each week and they are not all listed on the same page, so it would be wise to make some sort of checklist that alerts you when you are getting close to a deadline.

Some folks do well working on projects a bit at a time. Others, like me, would rather sit down and do it in one fell swoop. So, I’m not going to tell you to do homework in small pieces each day. What you SHOULD do each day is make time to read a few of your classmates’ posts, and check the Twitter feed at least once at the end of the day. Even if the class size is “only” ten or twelve people, it becomes a lot to keep up with the further along in the course you get because of all the posts.

A lot of the value of this experience is going to come from the group discussion that takes place after the individual creations. There are a lot of gray areas in some of these topics, so it helps to talk to others, posit scenarios, and have some back-and-forth to wrestle with the “What would YOU do” questions. So, keep the trading of thoughts and opinions about each other’s work on the top of the priority list.

This is also why you don’t want to fall behind in your posting schedule- if your post isn’t on time, it probably won’t get any feedback. Things move so quickly in a summer course! Everyone will be on to the next topic and has read someone elses’s stuff instead of yours because you didn’t have anything new at the time. Consequently, your development will suffer in some measure.