Word Processing & Keyboarding Skills
Keyboarding is a skill just like learning your multiplication tables, collaborating with others and learning to read. You can type if you understand how to read letters and spell, but you learning proper keyboarding skills can help you be more accurate, save time, present your work in a variety of ways and be able to share typed documents with others easily (Roblyer & Doering, 2014).Knowing how to use word processing documents effectively can enhance the learning experience.
I believe students should learn start using word processing when they are exposed to using laptops and computers. At this time it is also necessary to begin teaching keyboarding skills concurrently. In our school, our 1-1 laptop program begins in Year 3. At this point, students should begin to focus more of their final products as being published online. By teaching students how to keyboard at this age, it will also allow them the ability to type with more speed and confidence. As teachers teach word processing, they need to also explicitly teach different skills within the word processing programs. This is an excellent time for teachers to talk about design, visuals and digital literacy.
With anything, the more time you spend learning something, the better you will become at it. Thus, the more students are exposed to proper keyboarding techniques, the more proficient they will become. In addition, as students spend more time learning keyboarding, this also means they are spending less time on their handwriting skills. It is important that students know how to write and read letters before beginning keyboarding. I believe that there should not be a 100% transfer to keyboarding from handwriting as handwriting helps students develop their fine motor skills. Both of these skills are important and help students develop different needs.
Last year I previously taught Year 5 and almost all writing assignments were submitted via online tools (such as Google Docs, FlipSnack, e-portfolio etc.). This was easier for me to read as a teacher as I didn’t have to worry about decoding handwriting that was messy. I was able to take only my laptop home rather than a stack of books. My students were allowed to do their rough draft on Google Docs, thus allowing for corrections and feedback to be easily done using comments and suggestions by both peers and the teacher, saving valuable learning time as well.
Another point to note about using online tools is the accessibility options that are built into many of the word processing programs. Whether it is speech to text or text to speech, highlighting of words or increased font size, many programs allow the accommodations needed for students to succeed. Autocorrect was of great importance to one student in my class with dyslexia as it allowed him to gain more confidence with spelling and also get the instant feedback about incorrect/correct spelling and how to fix it. The downside to spellcheck is that sometimes it changes a word to another word than the one you want. Thus, students must still read and review before submitting.
With any technology tool, it is important to remember that it is still just one of many tools for teaching. No technology can replace bad teaching. If students don’t understand the writing process, then using a word processing software will not make their writing better. It is still up to the teacher to teach students using best practice and the best tool to support their learning intentions.
Roblyer, M. D., & Doering, A. H. (2014). Integrating educational technology into teaching [Sixth Edition].
Acceptable Use Policy
I work at an international, PYP school in Singapore and we indeed have an Acceptable Use Policy. In fact, in my new role this year as EdTech Coach, I actually had to rewrite the Acceptable Use Policy in conjunction with our Director of Education Technology.
The AUP is for all students in our school. In the primary level, students use the school's technology whether that's iPads/iMacs in Kindergarten - Year 2 or the 1-to-1 laptop programme in Years 3-6 or the BYOD (MacBooks) from Middle School onwards. There is also a teacher's AUP as well as now a parent AUP as the Middle/High school parents have school emails to access ManageBac.
One of the major challenges is finding wording that is suitable for all students, especially the younger year groups. This year we rewrote it to make it more positive and student friendly. Thus, instead of saying "Don't do this", it now reads "We will...". This provides a more community approach that we all are responsible for abiding by the rules and frames it in a way of what students should be doing.
Our Acceptable Use Policy is broken down into different sections:
1. Be polite and respectful
2. Be responsible
3. Care for the devices
4. Keep your information private
5. Access appropriate information
6. Reference your work
8. Social Media
Each section is expanded on with a few key bullet points. The social media section was added this year to fill a much needed gap. While we do not use social media often at our school, it is important to have the policy in place for if/when we use social media for specific needs.
The other challenge with developing an Acceptable Use Policy is that technology is always changing and the policy needs to be created in a way that will allow for new technologies to be fit in to the existing AUP. Thus, not always so specific to a certain tool but rather more the overarching ideals.
When going into each of the classrooms to talk about the AUP, I had to have very different approaches for the younger and older students. Some classes were more of a discussion while others were hands on practice of how to hold, carry, use, etc. the devices. I am interested to review the document after a year in the role and see what I would change after experiencing the role and the challenges within it.
Risks of Online Social Networking
As students become more technologically savvy, the more they want to communicate via social networking. Social networking for students has become an integral part of their daily lives. Whether it is Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter or Instagram, students want to share aspects of life with others quickly and publicly. Roblyer & Doering (2014) state that social networking is a distraction and often increases cyberbullying. However, students have a lot to learn from using social networking if teachers use it as an educational tool and resource.
Many schools have acceptable use policies that will discourage cyberbullying and even the use of social networking on the school campus. Some schools have sites such as Facebook blocked on school networks but this doesn’t eliminate the usage of these social networking sites outside of the school boundaries. Many students still also have personal devices (ie: cell phones) which they can access the social networking sites on campus. So is it really the best solution to ban them?
Perhaps the better method of dealing with the risks of online social networking is educating our students on how to be positive digital citizens and leaders. One of the things teachers can do is educator students with a proactive stance. By teaching students how to create strong passwords, not to share passwords and report to adults when someone they don’t know contacts them or someone is acting inappropriately online. Students need to understand how digital literacy is applicable to them and use online etiquette when communicating with others.
In addition, students need to be educated about how to deal with cyberbullying. Thus, they need to learn how to become more resilient and act responsibly. Again, by taking a proactive approach to this issue, students will have the required skills and strategies to help them successfully navigate a situation when an issue does arise.
As a teacher, I also feel it is important to model appropriate online behaviour. This past year, we used Edmodo which mimics Facebook for students in a more private setting. The students learnt about creating online profiles that were appropriate for their grandmas to see and learnt how to communicate effectively and appropriately with others online. Google Classroom can be used in a similar fashion. My students know that I have a Twitter account and that I use it for a specific purpose - education. This social media network to me isn’t for my friends and family. We talk about setting clear boundaries of who you will ‘friend’ and who you will not. In addition, I have had a weekly Gmail Home Writing programme for the last two years with my Year 5 students. This has helped them grow in their understanding of proper email etiquette and online communication. These skills can be transferred to other areas of online communication as well.
There are a number of great resources to help educate students as digital citizens:
Common Sense Media
Ribble (2009) outlines the nine elements of being a digital citizen. If teachers adequately taught the necessary skills to be a good digital citizen, it is the hope that there would be a decrease in cyberbullying.
We will never be able to stop our students from participating in online social networking sites. However, it is our job to educate them so they may make choices they can be proud of and communicate in a safe manner with others.
Roblyer, M. D., & Doering, A. H. (2014). Integrating educational technology into teaching [Sixth Edition].
Ribble, M. (2009). Passport to digital citizenship: journey toward appropriate technology use at school and at home. Leading and Learning with Technology, 36(4), p. 14-17.
Technology Timeline Reflection
I was born in the late 80s and began school in the early 90s, thus I entered into the Internet Era pretty much from the beginning. For almost as long as I can remember we had a computer at our home. Although, as a child, I was not allowed on it as often as I may have liked and was usually restricted to about 30 minutes a day until it became necessary to have word processed assignments in high school. Primarily I used the computer at home as a means of entertainment to play simple computer games. As time moved on to the late 90s and early 00s, I began to use our home desktop computer to communicate with my friends via MSN and other social media means. This allowed the computer to be a true source of interaction and communication amongst those most important in my life.
In terms of technology in my schooling, we didn't have desktop computers in my class when I began elementary school. However, we did have a computer lab. As a class, we had a computer class once every other week. I still remember learning about putting a floppy disk into a computer and how you could save files to the disk.
As I moved into upper elementary, I transferred to a different school. This school had desktop computers (2-3 per class) in the classrooms. This allowed us to publish our work through word processing programs. It was an expectation that our assignments were completed in this way for most things. As I had the computer at home, it became helpful in ensuring my schoolwork was properly completed.
In high school, again we only had a computer or two in some of the classes. However, we did have a library with computers we were allowed to use for our work when we had time. We also had computer classes. In Grade 9, all students were required to take an introduction to computers and technology course where we learnt about spreadsheets, the way computers worked and its parts, simple graphic design and proper typing. While I actually hated this course with a passion, it did prove to provide me with the foundations of technology that I would need in order to be successful as I moved on in my career and education. I was truly a child that grew up in the internet era using technology for communication, entertainment, education and more.
In university, I received my first laptop. This became my lifeline to success. I took all of my university notes in Word documents, accessed the school's online library for journal articles and used the Blackboard Learning System to communicate with professors and gather weekly class notes. All of my assignments were required to be published online and submitted through Turnitin for academic integrity. University was also my first exposure to things like DC++ (online sharing and downloading amongst university students). The ethics behind these became something that was an interest to me.
I chose a university for my education degree that had a focus on technology. We learnt about using things such as Interactive Whiteboards, clickers and a variety of presentation tools. At the time, it often seemed as though the technology was the way to teach and not necessarily a tool or resource just like everything else in your classroom. I think this was something I really began to understand better in my 2nd year of teaching when I had my own 1-to-1 laptop class.
My first year of full-time teaching was teaching Grade 1 in Beijing at an international bilingual school. I was shocked when I arrived in little to no technology, only 1 computer lab for the entire school and no computers in my own classroom. After training at a university that valued technology in education, I had ended up in a place quite the opposite.
Luckily, I moved on after 1 year to an international school in Singapore where I taught Grade 4 with 1-to-1 laptops. It was a huge adjustment and I had to learn quickly all the applications and how to best teach them to my students. We are a Google Apps For Education school and we use our laptops on a daily basis. They are a resource that can be picked up and used or may just sit there for a few lessons untouched. We really emphasise the skills that will help our students be successful in the 21st century rather just how to do something. We also use a lot of mobile technologies including iPods and iPads when necessary. The students have e-portfolios that they work on throughout the year and regularly share them with their parents.
Next year I am moving into an education technology coach position. I am excited to help teachers utilize the technology in the classroom as it changes and evolves. I know I will have to really support them with best practice and do a lot of research and professional development for the teachers so they don't feel burdened or overwhelmed with the technology that is ever-changing. While I may not have been a part of all four eras of digital technologies, I look forward to what's to come and the next edtech challenge.
Social Media in the Classroom
Social media allows individuals to have a platform to communicate and connect around the globe. I agree that the bullying can continue away from the educational institute, causing the student to ever have an escape from the bullying.
We do not use social media too often with our students, have an acceptable use policy and most social media sites (Twitter, Google+ , Snapchat, etc.) are blocked on the school network. Unfortunately, this does not eliminate what happens on cell phones and personal devices that are not connected through the school wifi. One of the ways I have worked with students in a closed and supportive social media network is through Edmodo. Edmodo mimics Facebook for students in a closed group that is created and monitored by their teacher. Students can communicate, share resources, etc. in small groups, through the discussion feed and learn how to navigate social media. When using Edmodo, we discuss a lot about digital citizenship, digital footprints or digital tattoos, online identity, creating profiles, how our 'brand' is seen by others, etc. It allows students exposure to social media without some of the challenges that are experienced through open social media tools.
I have personally not had to deal large scale issues of cyberbullying. However, social media also has the opportunity to take a turn for the worst allowing the 'trolls' to come out. I use Twitter to build my Personal Learning Network (PLN), gather ideas and resources, and share resources I have created. I find it to be a positive experience, though some of my colleagues have had very different experiences where people have 'trolled' them. Trolling is when someone posts negative or mean comments at another user. My colleague had others call him all kinds of things just because he had a different opinion to theirs. These are educators. If adults who are supposed to be role models for their students spend time trolling the internet, how can we expect our students not to? We as educators have to role model for our students safe and responsible use of social media.
It was nice to see when I read the article 'Why Twitter is Finally Taking a Stand Against Trolls' (Lapowsky, 2015) that the social media sites themselves understand the importance of not tolerating people who cyberbully others. Twitter is flagging inappropriate comments, indirect threats, violent threats, underage usage etc. This is essential for making the social media experience enjoyable for all users and it is positive to see resources put into identifying and eliminating those who do not wish to use social media in a positive manner.
Connect With Students and Parents in Your Paperless Classroom | Edmodo. Retrieved September 12, 2015, from http://www.edmodo.com/
Why Twitter Is Finally Taking a Stand Against Trolls. Retrieved September 20, 2015, from http://www.wired.com/2015/04/twitter-abuse/