Tonight’s discussion debated on two different aspects of openness and sharing in school being unfair to our kids. Sherrie and Dean argued the benefits of openness and sharing with regards to learning and connecting with others across the world in a meaningful, purposeful way. Melinda and Altan argued the concerns of openness and sharing with regards to privacy, consent, and accessibility. Both arguments had me agreeing with both sides because they were looking at this debate topic from differently interpreted angles. I respect each angle as I feel they both need to be discussed to bring awareness so that education on these concepts is “open and shared” (see how I did that, kinda punny!)
As I tend to have done in my last few posts, I am going to share my takeaways from this discussion. First off, I’ll start with Sherrie and Dean’s perspective on the topic.
As mentioned by the presenters, openness and sharing allows for the 4, now 5, C’s of the 21st century education. Don’t get me wrong, all of these are important in education regardless of the platform, but by using the online format, it opens up the possibility for more of each area. Communicating with others in your school division, province, country, or across the world, opens up the potential for diverse collaboration, exposure to differing perspectives to develop and apply the art of critical thinking, generating creativity for sharing, and connecting in a global stage to take education and our future leaders to the next level.
More often than not, we are the authority on what students learn and how but that has to change. We need to empower students by allowing them choice and freedom in their learning and this can be done through openness and sharing, or OEPs (Open Educational Practices) and OERs (Open Educational Resources). OEPs are a set of activities and support around the creation, use, and repurposing of OERs (Conole, 2010). OERs are freely accessible, openly licensed text, media, and other digital assets that are useful for teaching, learning, and assessing as well as for research purposes (Wikipedia, accessed on June 9th, 2020). Although OEPs and OERs are used more with high school and post-secondary institutions, there are some that address elementary outcomes such as ck12.org.
Lastly, students need to be in charge of their digital footprint. Let’s not be ignorant to the fact that they will all have one, if not already, much like we all do in some capacity. However, we need to make them aware of how their actions shape their online identity, which is something most employers are accessing to make hiring decisions. Students are going to inevitably venture into the online world and we as teachers have a part in educating them on how to positively reflect who they are by what they are sharing online. The difficult part is that many adults have difficulties with this concept. If we follow Ribble’s Step Approach, this will help us think critically when posting.
- What information am I sharing?
- How secure is it?
- Whom am I sharing it with?
- What am I leaving behind?
- What are my rights?
When we lead by example and are transparent (or translucent) with our own online activities, we can guide, influence, and inspire our youth to responsibly benefit from openness and sharing.
Now on the other hand, Melinda and Altan brought up some valid points with regards to openness and sharing in a personal context. We have to be knowledgeable about our division’s privacy policies with regard to sharing student information, especially pictures. As they pointed out, our EAL population has a difficult time understanding documents, such as the media release forms, and I assume there are other families that do as well. How can we make these documents more clear and understandable by most?
The digital divide is a concern brought up in many of our debates, and for good reason. Because of it, many in our population aren’t exposed to the benefits of openness and sharing. Since a lot of things are online now, such as applying for jobs, registering for activities, etc, those without access aren’t getting the same opportunities.
As Alec mentioned, it isn’t fair to keep the concept of openness and sharing from our youth. We need to provide them with tools and knowledge to positively participate in openness and sharing within our digital world. We also need to provide access for those who don’t have it so that they are exposed to more opportunities. Although openness and sharing can be done offline, with guidance, it can be transferred to online spaces appropriately. We can’t lose sight that open learning and sharing start with consent and choice and be aware of the positive and negative consequences of what we are posting or accessing online. It is important to share learning, and not necessarily opinions as this may lead to scrutiny of your teaching motives and agenda.
Openness and sharing in schools can be fair to our kids if addressed with care and concern and if used with an appropriate purpose to help instill the “5” C’s of 21st century education.