Digital citizenship is loudly proclaimed across compulsory education in New Zealand but do we know what we want it to be? Do we work to ensure it opens up possibilities for our school students and leaders or do we tread with caution and doubt its value?
George Couros, a visionary school leader in Alberta, Canada, has in his The Principal of Change Blog outlined some very useful insights to youth in his country and their views and actions on the internet in Positive, Negative or Neutral? Crucial conversations on Digital Citizenship?
He discovered that students were careful in their use of the internet and showed him what their digital footprint was like. However they did not display anything about their interesting capabilities and capacity to learn. Perhaps because it was not cool to do so.
If as George suggests resumes will be replaced by your online presence then there is a message for not only students at school but also for school leaders and educators at all levels.
His message for those guiding students of school age could well be for learners of all ages;
- “Is your footprint positive, negative, or neutral? What would others say that don’t know you?
- How do you want to be perceived offline? How about online? Is there a difference in your actions in those spaces?
- It is important to show who you are as a person, but to also understand that this is a an open room and to be thoughtful of others. Have fun but not at the expense of someone else.”
I know for years I ignored the thought of having an online presence that included my thinking and learning – despite the fact I have worked online in school leadership linkage for well over a decade!
My first tentative steps in the use of WordPress were made six years ago, with Twitter and LinkedIn being minor excursions on my behalf at times over the last four years.
It is only now that I belatedly recognise that I have been a “lurker” for most of my internet time and have not added enough value to others leadership learning by including my own thoughts and spending time curating useful connections/resources/etc that I have come across.
I suppose I am now facing the challenge that communities of learning do not yield full value to their members unless there is a healthy balance between “publishing” and “lurking.”
Publishing tentative understandings can be very valuable if others connect their thinking to them and pass on their understandings – rolling through a series of interactions will no doubt help us all to arrive at new knowledge and thinking that none of us alone could manage.
Now what about teachers as leaders. As innovative learning environments appear in the reality and minds of teachers and students can we see new layers of leadership emerge as expertise is shared more readily and sharpened as teachers grow their capacity not because they know more but because they are prepared to publish more.
Principals and other school leaders could develop “innovative leadership environments” where they publish their thoughts for others to reflect upon and add to. This would of course be built into a trusting environment such as Jan Robertson outlines in her recently published book.
Reference: Roberson, J. (2016) .Coaching Leadership: building educational leadership capacity through partnership. Wellington: NZCER (E-version available at $15 from http://mebooks.co.nz/education/coaching-leadership-2nd-ed-ebook
This blog has been placed in my WordPress blog as recognition that its tentative suggestions need a bigger audience than can be found in the “walled garden” of the New Zealand National Aspiring Principals Programme (NAPP)