The Seven Myths of Highly Ineffective Education Systems – Myth # 5 of 7

Myth # 5 – Teachers can improve by following instructions given to them by their seniors

This is an extension of the previous myth, except it operates between officials/supervisors  and teachers. The notion is that the teacher is merely a cog in the wheel, lower down in the hierarchy, and the best way to get him to improve is to make him comply with instructions from above.  Apart from the fact that the instructions from above often tend to be problematic, it is also true that many of them don’t get implemented at all. At best, teachers can be made to comply with rules such as coming on time, or turning in a certain amount of work – but they can’t be made to like children, or smile at them, or feel like coming to work every day and radiating this enthusiasm to students and colleagues. That is only possible if the system seeks a partnership with teachers, treats them as fellow stakeholders and engages with them on a more equal footing.

As the experience of RTE shows, instructions, rules and even laws that make lack of compliance justiciable – are insufficient to bring about the required change. They are simply the wrong instrument for the purpose. (I’ve written about coercive and generative power elsewhere.)

 So what is the way in which teachers change?

The Big Myth that Educationists hold – about others: Myth # 6 of the 7 Myths of Highly Ineffective Education Systems –

Myth # 6 – Stakeholders are concerned about education (as educationists understand it)

Curriculum developers, educationists, policy makers, thinkers on education, many ‘NGO types’, reformers and other highly respected people often talk of the ‘aims of education’ – be it in terms of creating a more democratic society or a more evolved person etc. Somehow, those who are actually affected by education are unable to get this. For the masses at large, the purpose of education is to make life better, go up the social ladder by getting a job or being able to earn a stable livelihood. This is nothing to sneer at or term as a ‘wrong’ or ‘limited’ expectation. In fact, this is what millions of parents are slaving away for, sacrificing a bit every day so that their next generation may attain a better life. By looking down upon this view, by treating the situation as if ‘we are doing education to them’ instead of with and for them (or perhaps us), those who design education tend to marginalize the very people education is meant for.  They also end up with curriculum, textbooks and processes that do not build on the experiences that children from less privileged backgrounds bring, something that is an enormous resource being wasted, which then continues the cycle of marginalization.

Like parents, teachers too have their own idea of what they would like. Despite what is often said, most teachers do want to succeed – what they would like is some practical (not philosophical) advice on how to handle the really difficult situation they face – increasing diversity, the changing nature of student population as more and more ‘left out’ groups join school (in Delhi slums, migration is leading to 7-10 home languages in the classroom, including Punjabi and Odia which are not contiguous in the ‘normal’ world), changing curricular expectations they haven’t had time or support to absorb.  Even after attaining the PTR norms mandated by the RTE, we are going to have well over 50% schools with around 80-100 children, with 2-3 teachers handling 5 classes – that is, a very large proportion of teachers already are and will continue to work in multi-grade settings in the foreseeable future (while curriculum, pedagogy and materials continue to assume a mono-grade situation). Given that we are still short of 14 lakh teachers (the number was reported to have come down to 10 lakh, but with increased enrolment, is up again, the situation being much worse at the secondary level), the effect is felt by the 56 lakh who are there.  As mentioned, educationists may want high levels of learning to be attained using their policies and curriculum, but teachers just want to survive the day and, if possible, succeed in generating some learning.

And what kind of school would children want? Exercises on this have been few and far between. Most of the time children end up having to manage with whatever ‘we’ give out – from mid-day meals to ‘child-friendly elements’ to colourful books or whatever else. It is in the nature of children to find interest in whatever is made available, which is why there is a tendency to assume we have an idea of what they need. But engaging with them on the issue might reveal a lot more. For instance, talking with secondary school girls in a remote area in UP, we were discussing the need for toilets – but the girls said, “We can manage without the toilets, but what we can’t accept is that we are forced to choose Home Science and are not offered Mathematics.” This is surely something the authorities are not working on.

Simply listening to stakeholders might be a good idea. It would be revealing and educative for ‘experts’, helping reduce their arrogance and bringing their relationship with the stakeholders on a somewhat more equal footing.

What would you say if an expert approached you? And if you are an expert, how would you approach the stakeholder?

What The Education System REALLY Exists For – Myth # 7

The Seven Myths of Highly Ineffective Education Systems – Myth # 7 of 7

Or

The Seven Myths That Make Education Difficult To Improve

See Myth # 6 of 7 here.

Myth # 7 – The education system exists to improve education

Systems tend to lead double lives – at a conceptual level they might be brilliant, with wonderfully competent and committed people leading them. Yet at the ground level, what is in operation may be entirely different. Thus despite terrific policy and capability at policy/decision-making levels in the health sector, what common people might be heard saying is: “It is better to pay through your nose at a private clinic, than to die for free at the government hospital.”

For the people, the ‘system’ comprises of those representatives they meet at the district, block, cluster and village level, and occasionally those at the state levels. To understand the situation, try asking a group of educational administrators about the finer aspects of TA-DA rules and how they apply them, and you will find they can animatedly discuss them for about two hours. But raise the issue of why children are not learning (which is actually their real responsibility) and you will get a different response… (It’s true, isn’t it?)

This is what tends to happen to any system  (or even organization) over time – ultimately it’s own nuances, requirements, procedures, structures and powers (or power) become its main concerns, with the reason for its very existence slowly dimming in the memory of its functionaries. Thus:

  • teachers/CRC-BRC must spend more time collecting data even at the cost of teaching or improving learning, or
  • every school must follow the given framework for its School Development Plan (because the need to compile the plans at the block level is more important than the need for it to be appropriate for that school), or
  • every HT must maintain records for the officials ‘above’ even if it means she will not have time to support her teachers in improving the classroom process.

It is as if children, teachers, HTs, SMCs all exist to feed the machinery ‘above’ which has to ‘control’ them, and ‘give’ them resources (from mid-day meals to teachers to textbooks to in-service training, from which often a ‘cut’ may be taken), ‘allow’ them to take decisions such as which would be the most convenient time for most children to attend school, ‘monitor’ the work of teachers, ‘test’ the learning of students, and ‘grant’ the privilege of education.

What the RTE implies is that it is those who get their salaries because of children who are the real ‘beneficiaries’ – which includes all the administrators, supervisors, inspectors, monitors, institutions, departments, ministries.  It is they who are accountable to children and teachers, or would be if they really existed for education.

As mentioned, give them enough time and systems end up existing more to perpetuate themselves – and the status quo within – rather than the purpose for which they are created. Try making a change in the way things are organised within a system and you might find it responds with a kind of ferocious energy it fails to display when similar urgency is required in its primary objective. For instance, if it were declared that an educationist rather than an IAS officer will head the Department of Education, you will get a lot more activity in the system (to prevent that) than if you declared (as is well known) that most children are failing to attain grade level learning across the country.

Finally, systems exist to preserve the hold of the powerful. Issues that affect the middle classes or those more privileged get inordinate attention in the system. Thus nursery school admissions in private schools in Delhi are a big issue, or the allocation for poor children in elite private schools is endlessly discussed, or the class 10 board exam being needed (by children from better off families)… but the death of a 100+ children in a mid-day-meal from a poor section of society, or the low levels of  service in deprived areas or chronically low learning levels despite much money being invested – fail to receive that kind of attention.

For those seeking to make a dent in the system, it would be healthier to have a more ‘aware’ notion of what the education system really exists for. The puny strategies we use to make things better are unlikely to serve as even pinpricks to the system.

So, What Now? Knowing the 7 Myths of Highly Ineffective Education Systems, What Do We Do?

Continuing to live with these myths is to deny ourselves the opportunity to succeed, especially for those who need education the most. The first step is to accept that these notions have indeed affected our work in trying to bring about better education. Acknowledging this is not a sign of defeat but of learning.

After acknowledgement, however, come reflection – and small steps.

Here are some small steps that all of us can take:

  1. Discuss these ‘myths’ and related issues with as many people as you can. Question and contest them, or support them, with your experiences, facts and data from your sphere.
  2. If you are in any way connected with education – as a student, parent, teacher, CRC-BRC, official or resource person, NGO worker or decision-maker, make one small change every month which in some way empowers children or teachers or HMs. (Our team, Ignus PAHAL, will soon be producing a poster presenting a graded list of these small, doable changes at the school level.)
  3. Talk with as many stakeholders as possible and within reach (and in the limited time available) about what they would like. They might suggest things they could do – and a small beginning may be made to a partnership in bringing about improvement that is gettable. It may be a better way to help children wash their hands before the mid-day meal, or managing to start the school 10 minutes earlier so that learning time increases, or ensuring used textbooks are circulated better, or working out how you may share your expertise with children or teachers.
  4. Find something interesting you can share with children. It may be a news item (e.g. did you know that for some reason, the MHRD – and some of the other ministries of education in the country – face a problem with monkeys troubling them?), or an interesting story you’ve read or know (but no moral tales please!) or a suggestion for something they can try out (e.g. making a paper plane turn in a predicted direction) or find out (e.g. why the inner margin of a textbook page is wider than the outer margin – okay, that is too easy but you get the idea).
  5. Find a way to convert complex educational ideas into simpler forms so that a person with no background in education or no access to ‘high’ language may understand it. E.g. ‘non-detention is not the same as non-evaluation, and that by detaining children we are making them pay the price for the system’s failure and also supporting the idea that it is fear which leads to learning’. Can you find a way to make this idea easy to understand for millions of teachers, parents, SMC members and others? (You can guess why this statement was selected as the example…)
  6. Use your mobile – call up a teacher, or text her an idea or send your appreciation. With children, use the stop-watch, camera and calendar in your phone to do activities. If you know an official and have a good enough relationship, make him or her uncomfortable by reading out sections of this article (don’t get into a bitter argument – a gentle, understanding approach may be more useful!).
  7. Finally, please add to the discussion on these 7 Myths and, perhaps more importantly, to the list of suggestions.

But all these are very small things, you might say. They can’t achieve much. Well, not if many, many, many of us are doing them! Perhaps it’s a myth too that only when some large government programme is in action can change take place. This ignores local ingenuity and the sheer numbers that can make government efforts look feeble – or boost them to make them actually succeed. Towards this, your views and ideas may be more powerful than you imagine. And that’s not a myth!

Detention For Adults?

To all those who are convinced that the non-detention policy is harming education…

Children’s apparent lack of learning becomes an issue mainly because it is easy to see that they have missed out on something. The fact that at a younger age learning is very fast and that clear milestones are available helps us perceive this – and therefore apply all kinds of expectations, tactics, at times even coercion to ‘ensure’ learning – one such being the detention system which, many believe, is needed in order to maintain ‘quality’. By making children lose a year because we couldn’t ensure their learning (and blaming them for it), we feel we can generate the fear required to make them ‘serious’ and learn.

If we are convinced about this, why should it apply only to school education? What if we could lay out clear benchmarks for adults to learn and grow – in general as well as in the work they do. Certainly it is possible to have a life-long ‘curriculum’ with two-year benchmarks (over their entire careers, and even post retirement) for educationists and curriculum developers, teachers, HMs, government officials, managers, businessmen, fathers and mothers (and grandparents), journalists, artists, municipal staff, auditors, accountants, administrators, intelligence agents and politicians. What if there was a ‘detention system’ (in terms of not being allowed to be promoted or get a pay increase or being sent back to some lower ‘grade’)? Yes, in some government jobs there is an ‘efficiency bar’ and the supposed HR policies and internal competition are expected to sort this out. But do they?

Can we as a nation claim that we have, every year, demonstrated the improvement required to declare ourselves ‘promoted’ to the next level (whatever that is)?

And what happens when police are unable to reduce crimes, leaders are unable to ensure the welfare of the poor, systems are unable to deliver basics such as electricity / water / education / health, or societies are unable to get men to have basic respect for women?

Who should be ‘detained’?

HOW TO DISCUSS NATIONALISM WITH YOUR STUDENTS

Why do it

Whether on the TV or in newspapers or on social media sites – we are today surrounded everywhere by strong views on nationalism. Groups of people are getting angry and upset, calling each other names, being violent. Your students too are caught in this, though they may not fully be aware of it. They will be absorbing views from different sources, all of which may not be reliable. And they may end up adopting strong opinions (or even what you consider misguided ones) without giving them sufficient thoughts. For this reason, we have prepared a discussion guide. It is important that at this crucial time, when they might be making a choice, you, their teacher, reach out to them and help them think things through.

So here are some hints. Use them in the way they work best for you. Drop them or change them or add to them according to your need and situation.

Preliminary – setting the ground

For such a discussion, it would be best to prepare the ground gently rather than rush into it. Here are some questions you could ask.

  1. Have you been hearing or seeing the news or reading the newspapers?
  2. What are some of the big issues being discussed?
  3. What have you read or hear about the ‘nationalism debate’?

 

Provide background

Briefly give a background to the issue. It is possible many may not have heard it or may not have a clear idea of what happened.

Discuss the  issue

As students the following questions. Make sure you get everyone’s views, especially those who often don’t speak up. [Some hints are given in the brackets.]

  1. So what do you think it means to love your country? [taking care of the environment? Looking after those who are not able to take care of themselves? Singing patriotic songs? Joining the army? Being polite to others? What else? Especially in our daily lives, what do we do (or can do) to show our patriotism?]
  2. What are the best ways to show your love for your country? [you can use the list from the previous question to identify 2-3 of the ‘best’ or ‘most important’ ways and discuss why students think they are the best.]
  3. What are some of the things you would not do if you love your country? [e.g. spitting everywhere as it spreads disease, not dirtying or vandalizing the environment, not jumping a queue or try to take an undue advantage…]
  4. Even in a family everyone is not able to agree on everything? Have you seen any example of this? What happens in such a case?
  5. So if someone does no agree with you, is it a good idea to beat him or her up? Why?
  6. What do you think are the best ways to deal with disagreement?
  7. And what if on the issue of loving your country, someone says something you don’t find pleasant? What should you do?
  8. What are the best ways of finding out more deeply why people think the way they think? And how can you use that to help them see things differently?

Do we even know what we assess when we assess learning?

‘It took me quite some time to get the little girl to let me know what was bothering her,’ said Prof. A. K. Sharma, the former Director of NCERT. The year was 2000 and he was telling me about an incident from a class 2 maths period in the model school in the NCERT campus. The teacher had just completed teaching children subtraction of two-digit numbers with ‘borrowing’, and he had found two children hesitating over the problems they had been given to solve.

The first, a girl, had made a ‘mistake’ as she had failed to borrow from the tens side. Being a grandfatherly and kindly figure, he was able to cajole the girl to speak up. Very softly, looking down and away from him all the while, she said, ‘We learnt in the moral science class that borrowing is bad.’

Reeling from this, he approached the other child, a boy, and discussed why he had not completed his work on the problem. After much exchange, the boy said, ‘But why should I borrow 1? I want to borrow 2.’

Taking part in a recent session on ‘error analysis’, I was reminded of Prof. Sharma’s advice to engage with children to understand their ‘errors’ rather than rely on their work on paper. In numerous assessment experiences since, I’ve seen children who are otherwise very competent falter because of an issue at home or a fight with a friend or because they are being bullied. In open-ended questions in language, teachers are hard put to identify if there really is an ‘error’ or if the child’s view is a valid, logical interpretation. (And asking only close-ended questions is hardly sufficient to understand children’s abilities.) It becomes even more difficult when it comes to children from marginalized backgrounds – as they encounter discrimination and even denigration (of their background, language or culture), they often resist by ‘not-learning’ or do not answer out of fear of being ‘disciplined’.

As the evaluation industry expands in the Indian context with more and more professionals taking in rigorous analysis of children’s responses and analyses of their ‘errors’, the tendency is to interpret these within the framework of the subject for which the test was conducted. But do we know what we really assess when we look closely at children’s responses? What if it’s not a maths or language issue but something else altogether?

Design Thinking for Educators-Unleashing imaginnovation ideas being student Centric

72975712_10158015243753714_5417108247465164800_nBook Title: Design Thinking for Educators

Author Name: D.M. ArvindMallik-

Publisher- Notion Press

ISBN 978-1-64650-692-7

Year of Publication- Oct,2019

Genre- Education

Price- 199

 

  • OVERVIEW

“A teacher is never an ordinary person. Construction and destruction can be produced in his lap.” The above given quotation by Chanakya shows the power of teachers and teaching which considered as a noble profession. Revolution in any idea starts with keeping abreast with following latest trends, understanding cutting edge technology and its impact on our world. It’s imperative that the digital generation of today is affectionately called the millennials and generation Z would learn anything at a faster rate as compared to previous generation and educator finds quite challenging in exceeding their expectations. 

Since every best practices in education were once an innovation by itself which was taught once by educator, teaching for the Future in context of the forth Industrial revolution which has just began will see greater progression in the way we comprehend ourselves as over the next few decades there will be great demand for formal education which must inculcate right employability skills. No wonder, todays educators are getting now more and more intrigued about how innovation in their own teaching can be effectively than glorifying their past accomplishment and faces acute challenges where they have been confronted with real, complex, and varied circumstances and as such, they require new perspectives, new tools, and new approaches for solving these perennial issues. 

The problem is however that education is not promoting Creativity in classrooms and schools where as educator themselves caught up with their own explanation of not allowing the student to experience originality, nor they intend to be communicative nor collaborative in solving any problem creatively and I found D.M.ArvindMallik authored Design Thinking for Educators- Unleashing immaginnovation ideas being student centric in Education, a creative methodology will help in designing meaningful creative solution for defined any issues of that sort which help the educator to reinvent their own teaching smartness. This maiden book of author Consist of two parts and they are- 

  1. Part-A (Chapter 1-4) constitute brief outlying about Innovations and its principles and 
  2. Part-B (Chapter 5-8) explains innovative model which was envisioned by author having 4 stages with 8 sub stages revealing new insights about each stage and this process is iterative in nature and then repeated, producing a new idea for each cycle of the model

  • CHAPTERS INTRODUCTION

Part-A

Chapter-1 identifies and explore a wide range of possibilities of introducing Student-Centric Design Thinking in an education environment which itself is an novel concept for any educator who wishes to apply a creative approach to their teaching practices but aren’t sure how to implement at the classroom  It is a brilliant step initiated by author, Dr.ArvindMallik D.M who himself have applied Design Thinking methodology in his Teaching approach and believes by inculcating confidently that in understanding students mindset any educator can be part of creating a more desirable future, and a process to take action when faced with a difficult challenge and enhances existing skills, behaviors, and techniques. 

Chapter 2 details about understanding on how Creativity and Innovation in any organisation yield successive growth and emphasizes on considerate the basic concept on Managing ideas with innovation. Here author goes one step ahead and expects world to change in some aspect and with change occurring so fast, we humans fail to analyze the intensity of emerging problems and their possible effects. Changing technology leads to change in our connections, thought process and our problem solving skills. Modern issues require modern solutions thus old limits fail and new ones emerge continuously with time. But what next? We want to know how we can make a difference in this changing world and make an impact

Chapter. 3 introduces us about Design Thinking.Like the design itself, design Thinking which according to is a human-centric, a holistic approach to problem-solving that employs empathy, ideation, prototyping, and experimentation to solve real-world issues. Design Thinking is a methodology used by designers to solve complex problems, and find desirable solutions for clients by drawing imagination, intuition, and systemic reasoning to explore possibilities of what could be, and to create desired outcomes that benefit the end-user (the customer). This chapter gives us a brief note on how Design Thinking will impact on our learnings and aftermath which us clearly articulated in this book

Chapter 4 focuses on employing Design Thinking Model for Educators in actual terms as in today’s knowledge economy, education becomes even more important for developing next generation of innovators and creative thinkers. 21st Century Teaching and Learning skills are those skills that will be essential for students to possess to thrive in the increasingly complex life and work environments. In this original model developed by Dr. Arvind Mallik D.M, has proposed entirely new demission on how an educator can implement a novel idea which follows systematic methodology on how to develop groundbreaking philosophies and solve problems creatively. The entire process is iterative in nature by making structured development, review it, make design changes and make refinements in the process carried upon until its finished. The new model combines the best of analytical thinking of Left and Right brain with intuitive thinking that instigates imagination, creativity, and innovation. Which can be conceptualized and implemented by any educators who sees innovation in teaching is a transformational tool and make a positive impact on students learning quotient. It has four-stage Seek, Imagine, Prototype and Share 

Part-B

Chapter-5 highlights each step mentioned in the model (4 stages with 8 sub-stages)in detail as this these Phases in the mentioned model is about finding answers to the problems we’ve yet to uncover. The goal here is to generate a wide range of ideas without being hypercritical and how we can influence the needs of the student whom we’re designing a solution. So that we can ultimately arrive at a possible Solution, seamless. Under Seek stage, It has two sub stages, Define and Empathy

Chapter-6, explains about various challenges faced by an educator in every classroom in drawing student’s attention, and conveying ideas effectively to them which itself is atedious task as students learn best when they feel part of any academic community to which they can actively contribute, when their voice also heard. Leaving positive influences on them profoundly, this section looks at the stage at which information is collected to help & generate new insights around Student-centric. Post defining a problem statement and empathizing to a breakthrough in understanding at a deeper level, educators can optimize the available information to search for inner meaning. Under Imagine stage,it has two sub stages, Research and Select

Chapter-7 draws close our attention in testing various chosen ideas which was being selected and will be dictated towards formalizing in prototype stage which is the third stage in the Design Thinking for educators. Prototyping is an integral part of Design Thinking and is a quick and inexpensive way to make your early idea usable, so you can go back to students and get their feedback on those idea being implemented which gives you evidence as good or bad. Author introduces original Two Design Evaluation methods, P-K-V Cycle (Plan- Know- Verify) and PRATTI Model (Predicting Revolutionary Authentic Technique for Testing Ideas). To validate ideas worthy, educator must utilize and apply these 2 methods, without second thought. Under Prototype stage, it has 2 sub stages, Test and Evaluate

Chapter-8 articulates how prototype makes an impact as turning ideas into actual ideas/products/services that are then tested, iterated, refined & evaluated with chosen evaluation methods. Considering all four stages, final stage of the design thinking for educator’s process is Share, is a stage, educator will be upbeat in sharing their chosen idea and knowledge which now turned into a concrete, fully conceived action plan and acknowledges limitations of learning out of idea being talked through by Storytelling, particularly through multimedia, helps to communicated the solution to a diverse set of stakeholders (Students. Faculties, Authorities, Parents, external Service Providers etc ) Internally and externally of the organization. Share stage has 2 sub stages, learn and collaborate

  • EPILOGUE

Author expresses his intention how every educator who wishes to redefine their own teaching method but have become far too attached to their stereotype way of presentation of teaching thoughts and unable to rise up, evolve from old thinking thought process and venture into new perspective of thinking and manage Innovations in teaching effectively is the need of the 21st century, dare to go beyond present.  Design Thinking for Educators is a holistic creative problem- solving approach that focuses on students and their emotional responses with the aid of an educator by introducing breakthrough new teaching methodology. In this book, author reflected on adding value of envisioning on how design thinking philosophy can positively impact on educator’s creative instinct which can be applied to any class level of students, across any verticals/courses/subjects (K-12, Undergraduate, Post Graduate or professional training) for any Educational Institutes/Universities 

To sum it up, once understood, upon reading this book any educator will be able to demonstrate confidently how to set an example over delivering a ground-breaking ideas introducing the best in the world of teaching more effectively by using a structured outline which entails a systematic process in harnessing innovative teaching and learning method ideas for 21st century education. Design Thinking for Educators- Unleashing Imaginovation ideas being student centric, let this book be a guiding force for you to be aware of your own potential and uplift every educator’s inner confidence in leaving their comfort zone and dare not to fear in implementing new thinking by solving any problems creatively and acknowledge innovation in practice as a continuous process which will not only boost your personal growth, be a change maker in education field which leads economic prosperity to my motherland, India

Book Reviewed by 

Dr. AnanthapadhmanabhaAchar

Professor and Dean Corporate Programmes 

Justice K S Hegde Institute of Management 

Nitte,Karkala Taluk

Udupi – 574110 Karnataka

India

Online Privacy for Students in a Digital Age

When I taught Grade 8 English, I always had my students write an autobiography at the beginning of the year to learn more about them. This past year I added a media focus by having students design a digital poster to represent themselves. The software to be used was left wide open – students could use anything from Microsoft Publisher to online digital poster software to simple Paint.

I even gave student the option to publish their work online as visual resume or an About.me page. My intention for this online option was to encourage students to begin building a positive online presence. It was not mandatory, but rather an option and platform for the students to showcase their accomplishments.

See my lesson instructions here:

We spoke as a class about what is and isn’t appropriate to post online.

However, I received mixed reactions from parents and my peers. Was this still too much information for students to post publicly? Should students under a certain age be anonymous on the internet? Should such online behaviours be encouraged by a school?

Where do we draw the line between creating a positive digital footprint and protecting children from the dangers of the internet? 

In a school which introduced a 1:1 laptop program and supports a tech-infused learning community dedicated to the principles of the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), these are critical questions to be asked. And it seemed that no one knew the answers.

My classroom project sparked a lively debate among educators at my school concerning what the students should and should not be doing online. On one side, it is important for schools to protect students from the dangers of the internet. On the other side, I think we could all admit that students with their own laptops and a constant wifi connection are visiting whatever sites they wish.

Instead of hiding children from the internet, I feel it’s the role of the school to educate students on safe online behaviours.

We can never teach someone swim from the deck of the pool. We of course shouldn’t push them into the water with no previous guidance, but instead assist them into the water with a suitable knowledge of what to do once in the water and how to react to unfavourable situations.

From my experience, educators often prematurely give students full reign of the internet after deciding technology is a beneficial tool for education. We essentially pushed students into the deep end without the necessary skills needed to stay afloat. Students need to be explicitly taught digital citizenship and have their online actions closely monitored while they are still learning appropriate online behaviour.

See my follow-up lesson on online privacy here:

Please feel free to use any of these resources in your own teaching of online safety.

This Post is Licensed for Noncommercial Reuse..

It is my school’s policy that students and teachers use only copyright-free material. This makes sense hypothetically, but what does it actually mean? Where could this mysterious content be found?

After asking around, it became clear to me that copyright-free material was not understood by many other teachers as well. So how could we possibly teach and model finding such content for our students? Although it was part of my job to ensure students were only using copyright-free material, I knew very little myself about what can and cannot be used nevermind how to monitor this from my students.

However, teaching in a technology-focused school means the students use digital technology to create many of their projects. They take images, video clips, sound bites and more from the internet and to create their own products on a regular basis.

I decided to make it my mission to learn about copyright licensing alongside my students.

First, I compiled a list of websites with copyright-free material. I sent students to my Pinterest board of copyright-free resources.

However, my students thought Pinterest itself was all copyright-free material which could not be further from the truth. I witness numerous students searching for “copyright-free” content using the search bar of Pinterest!

I can see now why the students were confused.
So next, I modeled finding content using the Creative Commons website. This search engine links to various copyright-free sites. But students still struggled with the specific options on the different websites.
Luckily Creative Commons has a great resource to explain what each of the copyright permissions mean:

IJR Journal is Multidisciplinary, high impact and indexed journal for research publication. IJR is a monthly journal for research publication.

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