RVS Guest Author: Scott Mahan, Learning Specialist – As we continue to navigate our way through the messy business of educational reform in Alberta, I often wonder if we are doing enough to educate our kids in the area of digital citizenship and online safety. If the old saying is true and “Knowledge is Power” then do our educational leaders, teachers, parents, and students have enough knowledge to adapt to the ever-changing world that we live in?
I don’t have the answer to the question, but I am encouraged by what I see happening in the community and at the school level. Last year, international organizations created/and or revised standards for learning in the digital age (ISTE NETS), the school technology branch of Alberta Education released a “Digital Citizenship Policy Development Guide” to help school districts increase awareness, books were written, and learning resources were developed and shared globally.
Locally, organizations like the Calgary Educational Partnership Foundation (CEPF) are working with surrounding school boards and corporate sponsors to promote awareness through an event called Online Safety Week, which runs from Mar. 4 – 8, 2013. This event provides multiple ways for students, teachers, parents, community members, and schools to get involved. The three key components that underlie Online Safety Week 2013 are:
1. The Keynote Speaker Series: This series presents an opportunity to hear a well-known authority speak on a particular aspect of online safety. Some of the events will be recoded and live streamed and available for everyone to watch in real time and/or during at time that fits their schedule.
2. Cyber Crime Contest – YouthLink Calgary: The Police Interpretive Centre encourages students in Grades 5 – 7 to solve a mock crime scenario, applying analytical and investigative skills to the evidence they “gather” online from police and evidence reports. The scenario opens the door to discussion around protecting your digital identity, cyber bullying, and other critical issues. Students or schools looking for a little motivation can check out the great prizes offered to contest participants.
3. School Presentations: Volunteers will visit schools throughout Central and Southern Alberta, to speak to students and get them thinking and talking about online safety issues. In 2012, 22 volunteers visited 45 schools and talked to more than 7,000 students about how to make smart and safe decisions in an online world. This year the CEPF presents leading Alberta educator and technology authority George Couros to the Online Safety Week event.
“George Couros is passionate about creating collaborative learning environments, with technology as a critical piece of the puzzle. He is Division Principal of Innovative Teaching and Learning with the Parkland School Division based in Stony Plain, Alberta. Couros also travels the globe engaging audiences on leadership training and technology topics that range from how administrators can use Twitter, to Digital Identity and creating blended learning environments.”
On Mar. 5, 2013, George will run two sessions that are geared towards high school students and one parent specific session:
From Digital Citizenship to Digital Leadership: We often tell our students that what they do online can affect their future, but do we share or teach them how their online presence can also provide them opportunities that we never had as kids? There are many great examples of people and students doing things to not only improve their own opportunities, but to improve the lives of those in their school, communities, and around the world. Kids have an opportunity to make a difference and we need to focus on giving them both the opportunities and tools to make a difference in their world through the effective use of technology and social media.
Parent 2.0 – Connecting With Your Kids in a Digital Age – Does Twitter have a place in the classroom? As schools look forward towards using social media to improve learning in schools, many parents are fearful of what this actually means. Social media provides an opportunity for parents to not only have meaningful engagement in the learning of their child but can greatly change the conversation not only at school, but also at home. This talk provides peace of mind to parents while also engaging them in considering the unique opportunity they have to participate in their child’s learning through the meaningful use of today’s technology.
For more information about Online Safety Week events, visit the event webpage. To learn more about Digital Citizenship and Online safety, visit the RVS website, or check out Internet Savvy, Alberta Human Services’ new parent resource.