Responsible Use Agreement (RUA)

For the final project of course 2, I worked with colleagues from two international schools from Kuwait and my school in Riyadh to create a Responsible Technology Use Agreement (RTUA) for the Middle School years. The documents we used to help guide our decisions for the document were, Davis School District Technology Resources Acceptable Use Agreement> and a Family Contract for Digital Citizenship found at digitalcitizenship.net, the American International School-Riyadh Technology use Agreement and the Jones County Cybersafety Use Agreement for Middle School. Although this document is designed as a contract agreement, we felt that we wanted it to serve other purposes as well relating to the skills we have learned through our second CoeTail course.

Photo Credit: Lotus Carroll via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Lotus Carroll via Compfight cc

The document focuses on three sections. The first section is a letter to the parents, that includes instructions for the document as well as the responsibilities of the school and parents regarding the student’s use of technology at school. This section also includes a glossary of terms in order to assist the parents with the language being used throughout the document and for the parents to become more familiar with language being used in schools by educators and students. For other purposes, this section is designed to focus on how their child’s use of technology is not only the responsibility of the school, but that of the parents as well and that a partnership is necessary in order to be sure the safest technology environment possible is being created for the students.

The second section places a focus on the reasons that a technology agreement is necessary in schools and highlights the important points, including the purpose of having technology in schools, that it is a necessary component in education, what to expect in certain situations (loss or theft) and how technology is monitored in school. This part of the document also stresses the importance of the role of the parent and school as a partnership, but is also designed to educate parents, students and teacher about with an increased awareness about the role of technology in schools itself.

Photo Credit: changefusion via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: changefusion via Compfight cc

The last section of the documents focuses on the appropriate guidelines for students when using technology. This is a detailed list of what is expected of the students when using technology at school. The list is designed to help with guidance for the students regarding appropriate use of technology and as an educational component for students, parents and teachers to understand what types of situations could occur by using technology and what is the necessary steps to take when encountered by certain situations as well. Once again, this is section is also designed to help build awareness with parents about what situations can surface by using technology in schools.

Although I felt our group did a great job covering all the important towards making this document meet our purpose of an educational piece along with an agreement, I still feel that it is only a start for providing a safe environment for students. To increase its effectiveness this document would need to be delivered to students alongside parents at an information night early in the year. I doing this would allow the administration to demonstrate their seriousness with this issue and to address any questions or concerns with everyone responsible together. Along with this, it is imperative that ongoing educational opportunities for parents, students and teachers are needed to continuously revisit these ideas, in order to keep this topic at the forefront throughout the school year.

Digital Community

My first thought after looking at the resources and readings for this week is, ultimately I think it is the educational systems job to teach kids about proper digital citizenship. The reason I quickly reach this conclusion is partly based on my own knowledge about the subject by comparing myself before and after becoming a teacher. Sure, it is also a parent’s job to be a part of this, but I think that the majority are very unaware of the level that technology exists, with relation to their child. I have to admit that after I became a teacher about six years ago, I was very surprised about where students are with their technology abilities and this forced me to really have to step up my game with tech.

Further on this note, I had no idea how much bullying and other inappropriate use of technology was happening until I became immersed in this topic after becoming a teacher and spending so much time in schools, with our digital native students. This tells me that it is probably the same situation for the majority of others who are not teachers as well. As teachers, we see it, hear it, and discuss it on a regular basis because we are the ones with the kids and therefore we have inherited this responsibility as educators. As mentioned in the “What Teen are doing online article”, 95% of U.S. teens are using the internet. This is clearly demonstrating that the internet is their main source of community. One that often goes without the supervision of adults and authority.   

I believe that in order to address this topic, child protection programs need to be developed in schools to that include, educating students, parents and teachers about digital citizenship. It needs to become a part of the school culture in order to have an impact and parents need to be a part of it as well, so the conversations and messages can continue outside the school walls. In the “Passport to Digital Citizenship” article the author quotes;

“If we do think about it, are we teaching students to become more responsible with their behavior, and does this carry over when they go home? Do we have a “common language” that we can use to talk to students and parents about appropriate technology behavior?”

 

https://www.digitalcitizenship.net/uploads/LL2008DCArt.pdf
https://www.digitalcitizenship.net/uploads/LL2008DCArt.pdf

This article gives a clear model of how to guide these necessary lessons and discussions. The common language between parents and students is what stands out to me here because, how fast technology is developing that students are immersed in, there is no way the majority of parents are speaking this same language at home. With this being said I think our schools need to take a look at how we are educating students, parents and teachers as a community in order to help our students and children with their digital citizenship awareness and skills.

We Can’t Empower and Micro-manage

Ultimately, as educators, we want our students to be independent, efficient, self-directed decision makers, just like employers want their employees to be the same. The one thing I find that stands in the way of empowering people however, whether it’s employees or students is micro-management. Businesses want their employees to be self-sufficient decision makers, but at the same time most, if not all decisions with big companies are made from the top down. This is the same in schools. Are curriculum drives what students are forced to demonstrate understanding of, along with behave as our codes imply and mission statements state. I think there are also many situations where students feel confused about when to ask and when to be self-directed. So how can we empower students to use technology in a positive way to impact their world?

I think it needs to start with the big picture and not tell the students how to do it. Maybe instead we can give them many opportunities to discover how they can do it. Also, maybe we avoid defining what that outcome looks like and there can be discovery involved in that part of the process too. Minda Zetlin discusses in an article titled “5 Things Smart Leaders Do to Empower Employees” on inc.com that some of the best ways to empower employees is to make sure they care about the task, challenge them, tell them how they will be measured and get out of their way. Although this article is relating to adults I believe we can use the same or similar techniques with our students.

I was very entertained by the story of Martha in the TedX video “Extracurricular Empowerment” and the changes she was able to make by using her technology in, what I thought was a responsible and mature way, for a nine year old.

The speaker in the video then goes on to give many example of how our students are figuring out and using technology in ways that are positively impacting our world and for the most part, I am seeing all these ideas outside the context of school curriculums. So a couple of question from me at this point are, should we offer open technology time in schools and how could that look? And how do we tie it in with everything else that is happening in school?

Simple, but Confusing

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Source: Youtube Link

Well there certainly is a lot more to copyright than I thought. Especially in our digital age. I have to admit, I’ve been quite ignorant as a teacher since I began this career in China six years ago. Of course, citing sources and referencing has always been obvious and plagiarism is talked about and addressed regularly, but there are many other aspect to copyright that I was not aware of. After reading through a bunch of the articles and watching some videos, I am more aware, but still a little confused about exactly what we can and cannot do? In order to get more clarity in the subject I decided to take a colleague’s advice and search up some copyright basics to help me with this. I went on Youtube and was able to find this video. I’m not sure if this is just me, but during a couple different parts of the video I thought that it was maybe a sarcastically designed clip of just how confusing copyright can be. In the end I realized that the big message is that you have to get someone’s permission in order to use their materials. Something else that struck me in this video was that citing sources actually isn’t enough.

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I like the idea this week about thinking in terms of where we are in the world regarding copyright because I’m sure our approach and awareness is different depending on our location. At this point, I don’t know exactly what my obligation is as an educator, since this is not a hot discussion topic in my position. I do think however, that I need to become a lot more educated myself in this topic. Through reading the Article, “Dr. Mashup” by Brian Lamb and watching the video “Everything is a Remix” it is more clear to me, that the easiest thing to do when trying to be creative is to simlpy remix what’s already been done. I’ve noticed that this is always a go to in class. It’s hard for students to come up with ideas when leaving it open to them. There is nothing totally wrong with this, but, as a teacher, I need to continue pushing and guiding students to think more for themselves. I think, as educators, even if the country in which we reside does not follow copyright laws it is still important that we stress the importance of this to our students and colleagues. Why this is most important, is because the majority of our students will eventually be going to school or working somewhere, where this is necessary. What I have learned in Coetail this week, with citing sources with images and videos, I think it is important that I pass this information on to my students this year.