Digital Readiness Project: A Glance into a Public Mid-High School

Overview – 

Over the past few weeks I have had the opportunity to meet with the three principals of my school and the district technology coordinator in regards to our digital readiness.  Through my role as a technology leader, I was curious to see how my schools’ understandings aligned with that of the district as a whole.

Straightaway, I must admit that I approached these interviews somewhat naively believing that I already knew the answers and that our district was “ahead of the game” in regards to digital readiness.  Instead, I was quickly reminded that, when it comes to digital citizenship and educational technology integration, we are all really just trying to keep up with the game.  This realization, along with the interview responses, lead me to see that, while digital readiness is a complicated topic in a public school, there is a shared optimism among administrators about approaching and embracing this content.

What follows are the questions I asked each administrator, along with an infographic that covers some of the most pertinent findings.  I have organized this information into two sections, where we are “here and now” and what we should address “looking forward”.  Within those categories I have chosen to focus on where we are at with our current instruction, I have included some survey results based on my findings, I address digital equity, and I lay a framework for what my district can do to keep working towards digital readiness and citizenship.

Digital Readiness Project

Interview Questions

Guiding Questions:

  • How does our school district define digital citizenship?
  • What is our school/district currently doing to address issues relating to digital citizenship as we increase our technology use?
  • What issues relating to digital citizenship and technology use does our district need to address in the next two to four years?

Respect Yourself/Respect Others

Digital Etiquette –

  • Do students know how to use technology effectively and responsibly?
  • Are students aware of how their use of technology affects others?
  • How do we teach our students to not engage in cyberbullying, inflammatory language, etc.?

Digital Law –

  • How do we teach our students to use and share digital content legally (citing sources, understanding copyright laws, using file sharing sites, etc.)?
  • Do we have behavioral management systems in place to hold students accountable for how they use digital technologies?

Digital Access –

  • Do all students in our district have equal access and opportunities when it comes to technology use?
  • What accommodations are there for those students who do not have access to technology at home?

Educate Yourself/Educate Others

Digital Communication –

  • Do students understand what is appropriate to share through email, texting, social media, and other digital communications?
  • What do we do to teach students how to use email, texting, social media, and other digital communications effectively?
  • What policies to we have to teach about and prevent inappropriate digital communication such as writing in email shorthand, texting during class, and using technology tools to cheat?

Digital Literacy –

  • How are teachers trained in the best practices for using technology in the classroom?
  • How do we teach students to use digital basics such as browsers, search engines, email, etc.?
  • Do students know how to determine legitimacy of web sources?
  • How are we teaching technological skills that are required in various workforces?

Protect Yourself/Protect Others

Digital Rights & Responsibility –

  • How are we teaching ethical technology use both inside and outside of school?
  • What tools do we provide students for reporting cyber bullying, threats, and other inappropriate technology use?
  • How do we ensure our staff is modeling ethical technology use?

Digital Health & Welfare –

  • Are students aware of both the physical and emotional dangers of internet use?
  • Can we use technology to improve overall health and wellness?

Digital Safety & Security –

  • How do we teach our students to use digital precautions such as difficult passwords, virus protection, backing up data, identity theft, etc.?
  • How do we gain the support of parents and the larger community to uphold responsible technology use?

Reflection – 

As stated above, I went into this project with a few preconceived ideas about the digital readiness of my school and district that were not totally accurate.  Specifically, my greatest learning point was in realizing that, while my administrators had already previously given some serious thought to many of my interview questions, there is still a lot of room for us to grow.

I was pleasantly surprised at how receptive they were to my questions and I was exceptionally pleased with their response to my finished report.  They were all eager to share the information, outlined in the infographic, with other educators and district employees and this really put in motion the conversation around “what next”, helping to also establish my role as a technology leader.  Within this conversation, we decided that our most vital next step is to gather more clear information on students and teachers in regards to digital readiness.  Two major questions that came up center around digital access (how many students have internet access at home) and digital literacy (are students and staff effectively taught how to use digital learning tools?).  These questions, along with those listed in the “future questions to address” on the infographic, provide our next steps in addressing the ongoing topic of digital readiness and will provide me opportunities for further insights in future blog posts.

References –

Common Sense Media. (2015). Digital Citizenship Scope and Sequence: 8th & 9th Grade Lessons.  Retrieved December 6, 2015, from https://www.commonsensemedia.org/educators/scope-and-sequence#unit-6-8-unit-3

International Society for Technology in Education. (2008). ISTE standards: teachers. Retrieved December 6, 2015, from http://www.iste.org/docs/pdfs/20-14_ISTE_Standards-T_PDF.pdf.

Ribble, Mark. Digital Citizenship: Using Technology Appropriately. (2014). Retrieved December 1, 2015, from http://www.digitalcitizenship.net/Nine_Elements.html

Washington State Report Card (2014-2015). OSPI: Washington State Report Card.  Retrieved December 8, 2015, from http://reportcard.ospi.k12.wa.us/summary.aspx?groupLevel=District&schoolId=7137&reportLevel=School&year=2014-15