Best wishes for a healthy and happy summer from the CSBA!
How do school boards and districts define digital citizenship? What does it mean to be a responsible digital citizen? How do boards and districts infuse the concept of digital citizenship into the school community and the curriculum?
These are questions that the Lester B. Pearson School Board, an English school board located in the Montréal region, is addressing as they implement a digital citizenship project and framework in their schools and in their community. One of the first school boards in Canada to introduce such a project, it is remarkable in its implementation in that it involves all members of the school community. The board has also reached beyond its schools into the community with this initiative.
Digital Citizenship can be defined as a concept which helps school communities to understand what students should know, in order to use to use technology appropriately. Digital citizenship is a way to prepare students for a society full of technology.
The Lester B. Pearson School Board’s framework is based on Ribble & Bailey’s 2007 book “Digital Citizenship in Schools.” (International Society for Technology in Education). The authors identify nine elements of digital citizenship: digital access, digital commerce, digital literacy, digital etiquette, digital law, digital rights and responsibilities, digital health and wellness and digital security. Each of these nine elements form general guidelines for school communities-with the goal of understanding roles and responsibilities in a digital society.
The CSBA asked Tanya Avrith, Educational Technology Teacher, and Michael Chechile, Director of Educational Services at Lester B. Pearson School Board about the implementation of the school board’s digital citizenship project:
CSBA: How do you define digital citizenship? In your opinion, what does it mean to be a “responsible digital citizen?
LBPSB: Digital Citizenship provides a framework for all stakeholders (students, teachers, parents, administrators, policy makers) to deal with the appropriate use of technology. A “responsible digital citizen” understands that there is a code of conduct when using technology. They respect that the technology has boundaries and understand that with the rights they have to use it, comes responsibilities to use it appropriately.
CSBA: In order to implement a digital citizenship initiative, what changes are being made to the technology policy at LBPSB?
LBPSB: A revised policy is in the final stages of consultation and adoption. The title is APPROPRIATE USE OF DIGITAL COMMUNICATIONS AND TECHNOLOGIES.
CSBA: Your project is based on Ribble and Bailey’s book “Digital Citizenship in Schools,” in which nine elements have been identified. Can you give a specific example of how some of these elements will be put into practice across the LBPSB community? (with students, parents, teachers, administrators and board members?)
LBPSB: In terms of digital rights and responsibilities, students, teachers, administrators and school commissioners met from the beginning of the 2010-2011 school year in a board sub-committee to put together a charter of student rights and responsibilities. Students will be expected to go over and sign this charter at the beginning of every school year as a framework to guide the appropriate use of technology within the schools.
The elements are not stand-alone, they overlap in many ways. Therefore, we decided to approach digital citizenship by addressing the teachable topics relating to the program within the curriculum.
CSBA: How will digital citizenship be infused into the curriculum?
LBPSB: We knew that this question would be key in order for the program to work and be successful therefore we created a pedagogical steering committee that included students, administrators, pedagogical consultants and teachers. We addressed how we could teach the elements within the curriculum but it became evident that we needed to develop a stand alone program that would not feel like an “add-on” for teachers within their curriculum. We then developed a sub-committee of both elementary and high school teachers and developed a curriculum map that breaks down the nine elements into teachable topics. We took each topic and addressed what the students should know by the end of each cycle. For example, within media literacy, we addressed what students at every cycle (from elementary to high school) should know about plagiarism and copyright. We broke the curriculum map into three categories (borrowed from Bailey and Ribble), student behavior, student life and student learning and academic performance. Every topic within every level then provides teachers with online resources and lesson plans. It is very important for us to make sure that teachers who are implementing the program do not feel like this is an “add-on.” Therefore, we looked at every topic and created links to the Québec Education Program within various subject areas where we felt the program fit into the curriculum. All of this information will be hosted on the digital citizenship program website that will be launched in the Fall and will be open for sharing and collaboration.
CSBA: How will the digital citizenship project integrate actions to address cyber-bullying?
LBPSB: The digital citizenship curriculum map includes topics directly relating to cyber-bullying. We are also looking at holding workshops for both teachers and parents in the 2011-2012 school year that will directly address issues relating to cyber-bullying.
CSBA: What does the professional development plan look like in order to implement the digital citizenship project?
LBPSB: It has been a major focus of our board since the beginning of the 2010-2011 school year to get all the stakeholders to understand the digital citizenship program. We held information sessions for parents that dealt with the elements as well as issues that directly address Internet safety. Every school in the board has a teacher representative who attended regular meetings/training sessions on different aspects of digital citizenship so that they could bring the information back to their schools. We have held information and activity sessions with our central students committees/leadership students. We also held workshops for administrators and board members including the educational services and social services departments. Recently we held two open town hall meetings to the community at large that were broadcast live on our boards website. We recognize for this initiative to work all stakeholders have to be on board and understand what digital citizenship means.
For the 2011-2012 school year we have hired a digital citizenship program consultant who will continue to provide workshops to the multiple stakeholders. The program consultant will be required to be an active figure in the schools and provide workshops on how to integrate the digital citizenship project curriculum into their subject areas. Parents will also be provided with a series of workshops in October of 2011 throughout the board so that they understand how to continue implementing the appropriate use of technology for their children at home. We have also applied for grants through MELS to continue creating learning and evaluation scenarios with teams of elementary and high school teachers to implement the curriculum maps directly into their subject areas. We will be updating and our digital curriculum project website regularly with resources for teachers and students and will continue to build a culture of learning that promotes digital citizenship education.
Lester B. Pearson school board will present “Digital Engagement and Transparency – 21st Century Community Outreach” on July 8th and 9th at the CSBA Congress 2011 in Ottawa.
For additional resources in the area of digital citizenship, see:
This April, Speak Up 2010 released its national findings in the United States on the use of emerging technologies for learning. “The New 3 E’s of Education: Enabled, Engaged, Empowered: How Today’s Students are Leveraging Emerging Technologies for Learning” is the first report in a two- part series on the results of the Speak Up National Research Project 2010.
Speak Up is an online research project facilitated by the non-profit organization Project Tomorrow. The project polls K-12 students, parents and educators regarding the role of technology for learning. Since 2003, over 1.8 million students have participated in Speak Up surveys. Speak Up is a valuable source of valid data related to K-12 educational technology, science, math, and 21st century skills. These surveys are available to schools and districts in the U.S. and internationally.
The report provides a context to look at emerging technologies in education and how they should be used effectively for learning, with the use of this guiding question:
What can we learn today about the students’ aspirations, adoption and adaptation of emerging technologies for learning that can help us plan for the future?
To address this question, the report focuses on three specific trends: mobile learning, online and blended learning and e-textbooks.
Key trend #1: Mobile Learning
Using this question as a guide, “How can mobile learning enable, engage and empower today’s students as learners?” the Speak Up survey polled students on their personal access to and use of mobile devices. Some significant findings were reported:
- Smartphone access for middle and high school students increased 42% from 2009 to 2010.
- Students see use of mobile devices as two-fold; both as increasing the effectiveness of their learning process as well as to provide new opportunities for learning.
- The potential of these devices can provide expanded opportunities for learning in the areas of research, collaboration, and communication (ex.internet research, social media use, creation and sharing of documents).
- Adminstrators, teachers and parents report that an important benefit of use of mobile devices is an increase in student engagement.
- “BYOD” or “Bring Your Own Device” models, in which the student uses his/her own personal mobile device, are being explored in certain districts.
- 70% of parents of high school students are likely to buy a mobile device for their child to use at school.
- Students report that the largest obstacle they face is use of their mobile device in their schools.
Key finding: The use of mobile devices provides enhanced opportunities for students to be more engaged in learning both within and beyond the classroom.
Key Trend # 2: Online and Blended Learning
Blended learning can be defined as programs that combine multiple instructional approaches with the use of different web technologies (Canadian Council on Learning, 2010). Significant findings related to online and blended learning in the Speak up report were as follows:
- For high school students, the percentage of students taking classes online has increased significantly from 2009 (18%) to 2010 (30%).
- 47% of high school students say they would like to use an online environment to collaborate on school projects.
- 46% of high school students use social networking to collaborate on school projects.
Key finding: Online blended learning creates new opportunities for collaboration and student engagement, empowering a sense of “personal ownership” of the learning process.
Key Trend #3: E-textbooks
- Digital textboks are an emerging trend in middle and high schools. 35% of high school students are using online books or other online curriculum.
- Use of e-textbooks are congruent with elements of the student vision for the integration of technology in education: socially -based learning, un-tethered learning and digitally rich content.
Key finding: The use of e-textbooks provides a real-world context for learning within the classroom, as well beyond the classroom.
A New Trend: Parental Digital Choice
Speak Up also reports on a new phenomenon of parental digital choice. Parents are instrumental in enabling the use of mobile technologies in the classroom. Some key findings:
- 67% of parents would purchase a mobile device for their child to use if the school allowed it.
- 53 % of parents support online tutors and tools
- A majority of parents believe that use of mobile devices is a factor in extending learning beyond the classroom.
- 52% of parents believe that instructional technology to be “extremely important” for their child’s success.
- Parents want schools to use technology to create personalized learning experiences for their children.
Key finding: With the use of new technologies in education and through their digital choices, parents are enabling greater educational opportunities for their children, and building a new paradigm for the role of parents in education.
How well are schools in the US leveraging technology to enhance learning?
A clear divergence of opinion was revealed when parents, educators and students were polled on the question of: “Is your school doing a good job using technology to enhance learning and/or student achievement?” While 74% of teachers, 72% of high school principals and 62% of parents answered yes to that question, only 47% of high school students agreed. Although students have a clear vision and understanding of the potential of new technologies in their education, schools are clearly not meeting their expectations.
Lastly, students, parents, admonistrators and educators were asked to envision their ultimate school, and to identify resources and tools that have an impact on student learning and achievement. Some of these tools include smartphones, tablets, online collaboration tools, internet access, and adaptive software. While there are differing perspectives on the specific technology tools used to create an “ultimate school,” there is clear agreement from all stakeholders that these emerging technologies are essential to provoke transformation in education.
From theory to action
Although this report is based on students in the United States, it raises important issues surrounding the implementation of emerging technologies in Canadian schools. In order to move from theory to action, what is critically important is to incorporate the perspective of all stakeholders when implementing a framework for emerging technologies in the classroom.
In the Canadian context, Ministries of Education, industry, school boards and districts, non-profits, teachers, administrators and students need to bring their individual viewpoints and expertise to the table.
- Collaboration is key and especially relevant in times of budget restraint and economic pressures in education.
- One size does not fit all; and local decision-making is paramount to successful implementation. Informed and creative choices about technology integration at the local level will lead to successful reform in education for the 21st century.
- Technology is only as effective as its implementation; ultimately it is the people driving the technology that will have an impact on learning.
For another perspective on emerging technologies…
The Horizon Project is a joint initiative by the New Media Consortium, the Consortium for School Networking, and the International Society for Technology in Education. Each year this project publishes the Horizon Report, describing trends in emerging technologies for teaching, learning and creative inquiry that have an impact on learning. Horizon Report 2011 describes six “technologies to watch” as well as challenges that schools face in their implementation.
CSBA and 21st century learning
Stay tuned for an upcoming review of the Horizon Report 2011, as well as part two in the Speak Up series: “How Today’s Educators Are Advancing a New Vision for Teaching and Learning.” Feedback and comments are always appreciated.
Today marks a National Day of Action to make Shannen’s Dream a reality. Hundreds of students in Ottawa will support this Day of Action by marching on Parliament, demanding the Federal Government to address the issue of educational equity for First Nations students.
Shannen Koostachen was a student activist who advocated for funding equality and safe conditions for First Nations schools, before she passed away in a tragic accident in May 2010. Funding inequities for First Nations Schools have resulted in conditions of extremely poor quality for First Nations students. Shannen Koostachin’s dream was to attend a new school in her First Nations community of Attawapiskat; she and her classmates attended school in portables in substandard and dangerous conditions, because her school was sitting on toxic land. The community has waited for over ten years for a new school.
The campaign for Shannen’s Dream was initiated by MP Charlie Angus (Timmins-James Bay), who introduced Motion 571 “Shannen’s Dream” into the House of Commons. This motion was supported by the CSBA, and calls for First Nations children to have the “right to high-quality, culturally relevant education, transparency in school construction, maintenance and replacement, and funding that will put reserve schools on par with non-reserve provincial schools.”
The issue of equitable funding for first Nations students is of national importance. During this federal election campaign, The President of the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association, Catherine Fife, states that it is time for all political parties to make a commitment to an equitable approach to education funding.
How can we stand by, watch and do nothing? Standing up for the rights of children, whether or not they live in our community, allows us to confront inequity and, more importantly, involves us in acknowledging that our future as a country is linked with that of First Nations peoples. This is a vision and commitment that has to be defended.
Toronto Star, April 26th
To get involved in Shannen’s Dream and the National Day of Action, see the information provided by First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada and the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario.
We will be learning from leading experts in education, leadership, governance, social media and technology: Sir Ken Robinson, Timothy Workman, Mike Lipkin, Patricia Bradshaw, Suhana Meharchand, and Dr. James Norrie are sure to motivate and inspire.
Children’s Mental Health
Sessions and workshops:
Technology and Learning
Technology and Leadership
Public Confidence in School Boards: A Communication Perspective
Trustee Advocacy Role
How to Build Strong Teams
Parliamentary Procedure and Rules of Order
Boards for the 21st century-Governance
New this year! Cognitive Coaching Conversations
Detailed workshop itineraries will be posted on our site in the coming weeks.
Researchers at Memorial University of Newfoundland have launched an ambitious Pan-Canadian research study in collaboration with the Canadian School Boards Association. The work of Dr. Gerald Galway, Dr. Bruce Sheppard, Dr. Jean Brown (Memorial University) and Dr. John Wiens (University of Manitoba) is aimed at furthering understanding of effective governance practices of school boards/districts across Canada with the goal of understanding its effects on student achievement.
To this end, this study will examine policy-making at the school board level. The relationship of school boards and government will be explored, as well as the factors that impact their respective policy-making decisions.
The researchers are requesting participation from trustees and commissioners across Canada through surveys as well as through focus groups taking place in various provinces. Information will be distributed through the provincial school board Associations.
For more information, please visit the Memorial University Research Project page and check back often for updates.
Last week, the CSBA presented to CMEC during their 99th meeting (CMEC 99). This meeting provided Ministers the opportunity to advance work on the priorities outlines in Learn Canada 2020, a guiding framework and joint ministerial statement that focuses on lifelong learning in four areas: early childhood learning and development, elementary and secondary schooling, postsecondary education, and adult learning and skills development.
The Ministers of Education addressed 21st century learning competencies, including critical thinking, information literacy, collaborative learning, and new modes of civic engagement.
The CSBA appreciated the opportunity to present the Association’s 21st century learning intitiative, “Canadian Students as Global Citizens,” defined as:
Canadian students are the world’s citizens, with the potential to make quality contributions to a constantly adapting, fast-changing global economy. Public education must prepare them to meet this challenge.
This presentation and dialogue focused on developing insight and defining a new skill set for the 21st century, as well as the development of a common Pan-Canadian vision for 21st century learning. Provincial associations highlighted those initiatives that are contributing to CSBA’s role and vision of 21st century learning. These included provincial forums in collaboration with Ministries, personalized learning initiatives, action plans and innovative practices in Aboriginal Education, innovative models of labour relations, promotion of early learning and care, models of sustainable technology and promotion of policy for distance learning infrastructure. In addition, CSBA’s member provinces brought forward their public engagement initiatives with the goal of promoting and encouraging dialogue around 21st century learning competencies.
The CSBA thanks CMEC for the opportunity to engage in a dialogue surrounding a vision for 21st century learning. We are looking forward to future opportunities to communicate information and take action towards a vision of 21st century learning in Canadian public education.
In addition, CSBA is working towards identifying opportunities for collaboration with national partners in education, with the goal of advancing a vision of 21st century learning for all Canadian students. A large focus of our work is community engagement and information-sharing. To meet this goal, we have new interactive tools in place. We want to hear from you-please send us your feedback by leaving your comment at the end of this post, or via Facebook and Twitter.
January 27th is Family Literacy Day, and the Government of Canada has issued a statement regarding the importance of family literacy in Canadian society.
The Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, emphasized the value of literacy in building stronger communities for Canadians:
Strong literacy and essential skills are so important for children’s success at school and adults’ success at work. That is why our government is investing in skills development and proudly joining Canadians in celebrating Family Literacy Day.
To kick off the event, Minister Finley announced two projects that will improve access to literacy services in minority-language communities in several provinces and territiories. These projects are in conjunction with the Fédération canadienne pour l’alphabétisation, as well as the Service d’orientation et formation des adultes de l’Association franco-yukonnaise.
Created in 1999 by ABC Life Literacy Canada, this day marks the importance of family literacy and heightens awareness in Canadian society. This year’s theme is “Play for Literacy,” emphasizing the valuable effects of play on literacy skills and in providing new literacy opportunities. To celebrate, ABC Life Literacy Canada has planned many local events that are taking place today across the country in Canadian public schools and communities.
Abbotsford School District, located in the Fraser Valley of British Columbia, is home to The Aboriginal Hub, a truly unique initiative in British Columbia. The Aboriginal Hub, part of the Aboriginal Education Centre, offers a range of community programs for families and children in one central location. Programming is a joint effort between the Abbotsford School District, the Ministry for Children and Families, the Ministry of Education, the Fraser Valley Child Development Centre, local Health, the Fraser Valley Regional Library and the United Way. Extensive community resources are available to students within the district, who are benefiting from strong school-community partnerships.
We asked Perry Smith, District Principal of Abbotsford School District’s Aboriginal Programs, a few questions regarding the evolution of the Aboriginal Hub, its emphasis on community partnerships, and its impact on students and the community as a whole.
How did the Aboriginal Community Hub come to exist? Who initiated the creation of an Aboriginal Community Hub?
“Our department identified that services in Abbotsford for Aboriginal people were rather disjointed; there was a need for an Aboriginal Friendship centre type service in the City, but the only service like that was in Mission (a community across the Fraser river, a 15-20 minute drive), the mandate of which covered a large region in the Fraser Valley and included a number of communities. That’s not really reasonable for a group of people who are not likely to access services unless they are close by, at their finger tips. We went the route of trying to get a Friendship Centre status funding here, but found there was no more funds for those. So, we identified a need to reach out and provide services from one building – a ‘one stop shop’ type of mentality.
So that was the impetus for establishing a hub-like scenario and having services for Aboriginal people, all here. We had the space and facility, so we opened this building up as a Hub. We now have access to all the (Aboriginal) kids in our community; we know where families live, and which of our students are at risk. And by partnering with the Early Learning group in the school district to establish a StrongStart centre, it opened the door to other partners to come in and provide services.”
The Aboriginal Community Hub is unique in its collaboration between community partners. How do these partners work together to create comprehensive services for the community?
“Essentially it works because the Abbotsford School District provides the building to the Aboriginal Department to use as a hub – the building is the central feature. To my knowledge we’re the only Aboriginal program in a BC school district that has its own building. The fact we have a building means we have a meeting room, we have a gym, we have other spaces that any of the services can use. It helps us collaborate with those district teams and services in the community; they are able to come and meet with us so we can determine what their needs are. We want them to provide service to the aboriginal community here and we help by advertising and communicating that through our schools. A couple of examples: we just had a family gathering and combined it with a flu shot clinic; Fraser Health used our gym one evening to hold an Aboriginal Health Fair for our families.
Our key partners, with the School District, are: Xyolhemeylh Child and Family Services, Fraser Health, the Mental Health team, and Early Learning/StrongStart. Other groups come in and use the space too. “
What is the role of Abbotsford School District within the Community Hub?
“The major role is the support the Board of Education gives the Aboriginal program with the building. They let us use this building with no strings attached. And that’s unique. When people come and ask how we are able to have this hub and building, they are surprised when we say it’s provided (by the school district). Certainly other school districts are asking ‘how are you doing this?’ and ‘How did you go about putting this in place?’ It’s quite amazing really.”
What kinds of resources and information are available to the school district?
“Our mandate is to provide educational service and support to Aboriginal students in the school district (there are just over 1,800 students identified as Aboriginal in Abbotsford schools), but we recognize the social aspect of our community is part and parcel of academic success so providing these services we believe is going to carry over to see success in school.”
What has been the influence and impact of the Aboriginal Community Hub on the community? Have you seen an impact beyond the community?
“The increased access to the building has been key; building the access has increased the services we are able to provide, and the numbers of families accessing services. It’s families taking advantage of the programs here.
I think we’re halfway to a full use of the centre. One of the things we haven’t been able to do yet is open extensively in the evenings, or on weekends. It’s the one thing holding us back. So that’s our next step.”
A new initiative by the South Shore Regional School Board, a member board of the Nova Scotia School Boards Association, is increasing awareness of the specific literacy needs of young boys in the classroom.
Recent research and various initiatives from Ministries of Education have identified the unique learning style of boys in the classroom; literacy strategies specific to boys’ needs are needed to improve student engagement and achievement-ultimately preventing boys from dropping out of school.
Prioritizing boys’ learning needs early on in their school career is critical for many reasons; literacy rates are decreasing and drop-out rates are increasing among boys in Canadian schools.
PISA 2009 results indicate that 15 year old Canadian females outperformed males in reading by 34 points (although similar to the average OECD gender gap).
A recent report by the C.D. Howe Institute discussed the increasing Canadian drop-out rate:
While Canada has made progress in the past two decades in terms of lowering high-school dropout rates, those rates remain unacceptably high for boys…the male share of the drop out population continues to rise, with five males now dropping out for every three females.
C.D Howe Institute, January 2011
For more information on the learning needs of boys in the area of literacy, see the report prepared by the Centre for Literacy at Nippissing University for the Government of Ontario, as well as the Canadian Council on Learning’s report on Gender Differences in Reading Achievement.