Monthly Archives: July 2013

Digital Citizenship Norms (EDER 679.10)

Today’s society is engaged in a participatory culture (Jenkins, Purushotma, Weigel, Clinton & Robinson, 2009): they are interconnected through social media and technology. Individuals are creating, sharing, and posting information/media with a global audience, sometimes unaware of the effects of their online behaviours. As educators, bust most importantly, educational technology leaders, it is our responsibility to ensure there is a policy in place that addresses digital citizenship – “the norms of behavior with regards to technology use” (Ribble, Bailey, & Ross, 2004, p. 7). Students should engage in responsible technology use, as they would engage as responsible citizens in the classroom and in their communities (Kowch, 2013).

Educators need to understand the digital world and how it affects students and their learning. School board policies should be reviewed and understood. Schools need to create a school digital plan that address the norms and behaviors expected of students within their particular context (micro, meso, macro levels). Each age level will require a certain set of norms, as students use technology in different ways inside and outside of the classroom. Digital norms ought to be applied in both settings. It would be very destructive to tell students that they have to be responsible at school and then let them decide how to behave at home.

Once educators have created a digital citizenship/technology plan, they then need to educate and instruct students on the importance of these norms. Students should be cognizant of their digital footprint (i.e what is posted online can outlive you and can define you as a person), should engage in responsible communication (i.e. respect individuals online and do not cyberbully others), and use technology in a safe way (i.e. use a system that is secure and not sharing personal information with people they don’t know). Ribble et al. (2004) provide a list of 9 norms to digital citizenship which can help you determine which norms will guide your school technology use. These include (p. 7):

  1. Etiquette
  2. Communication
  3. Education
  4. Access
  5. Commerce
  6. Responsibility
  7. Rights
  8. Safety
  9. Security

Being connected with a global and online world, students and educators need to be aware of the potential dangers and be proactive in ensuring that those utilizing technology should do so in a safe and responsible manner.


Jenkins, H., Purushotma, R., Weigel, M., Clinton, K., & Robinson, A. (2009). Confronting the challenges of participatory culture: Media education for the 21st century. Cambridge, MA : The MIT Press. Retrieved from

Ribble, M., Bailey, G., & Ross, T. (2004). Digital citizenship: Addressing appropriate technology behavior. Learning & Leading with Technology, 32(1), 6-12. Retrieved from


How to create innovation in your organization (EDER 679.10)

What makes a school or an organization truly innovative? You need a starting point and then you need an attractor that creates a newer idea, that is disruptive in nature, in order to innovate change. Let me example with a few drawings:

a) Ideas now and no attractors


This is the status quo. You are are point A and you’re heading to point B with the same defined purpose and process as years before. There’s no real incentive to change and innovate.

b) Ideas now and stable attractors


You understand that your organization needs some change to do things better, but the change that you are implementing is surface change (Kowch, 2013). In other words, it is minimal change that will not have a huge impact on the organization. There will be change, but not enough to innovate and change the organizational culture.

c) Ideas now and unstable attractors


You understand and implement some purposeful changes (Kowch, 2013).  Technology is an example of disruptive technology (Kowch, 2013). Take cloud-computing for example, the purpose of cloud computing would be to another way to collaborate and share resources just-in-time within a network. By introducing cloud computing to an organization as an idea (an attractor), staff will engage in meaningful discussions on whether to implement cloud computing and how it can be beneficial or otherwise to an organization. This attractor provides more tension between the now and the ideal, but it’s this tension that actually helps create a positive tension that helps bring innovation forward (Kowch, 2013). When embraced with tension, interactions can be more collaborative and changes the nature of what we are doing (Kowch, 2013).

If you want true change in your organization, you’ll need enough tension caused by a disruptive yet achievable idea. In order to allow for tension, you’ll need a diverse staff with different perspectives wanting to engage in meaningful discussions; and a leader who is willing to guide and lead those discussions. The question for edtech leaders is whether the idea you have will create enough tension for it to be innovative among your organization.

What is trending in the NMC Horizon Report? (EDER 679.10)

Every year the NMC Horizon Report publishes a report on emerging technology trends and their potential impact on student learning (Johnson et al., 2013). Here is a list of the tech trends this year for K-12:

Screen Shot 2013-07-11 at 10.04.59 PMIt is not surprising that mobiles devices and tablets were listed as the most important tech trend. Schools either already have iPads/Chromebooks, or are finding ways to finance and purchase tablets for their classroom. In fact, a Winnipeg school division has decided to make iPads mandatory in their schools and are implementing a 1:1 iPad pilot project this fall (CBC News, 2013).  This goes to show that educators are already placing an importance on mobile learning in schools. The way in which they are implementing tablets should also be considered. Tablets shouldn’t be used merely to replace textbooks and provide a technology alternative. They should be used for collaborating, learning and productivity (Johnson et al., 2013). If a school does decide to make tablets mandatory for in-school use, are they promoting access to technology or creating a bigger digital divide? Should parents have to pay for tablets to be used at school? Are school leaders basing their decision on the trends or on sound logical reasoning? These will be some of the many questions educators and edtech specialists will have to determine when adopting tablets at their school.

The other trends listed in this report seem foreign to me at the division 1 level. I am not sure how learning analytics will assist student learning at this level. Nor have I considered open content, 3D printing, and virtual laboratories. Cloud computing is something that was mentioned as a potential option for school, however, with the policies and parameters needing to be addressed around cloud computing, I am unsure if schools will be ready to adopt cloud computing in the next year. I can see this happening in the next 2-3 years instead.

What surprised me the most between the 2012 (Johnson, Adams, & Cummins, 2012) and the 2013 (Johnson et al., 2013) report is that there was a significant difference in emerging trends. The 1 year adoption were similar, but the 2-3 and 4-5 year adoptions were very different. Would it be wise to follow all the suggestions of adoption when one year the focus is on game-based learning and the next year the focus is on learning analytics?


CBC News. (2013, May 29). Winnipeg school division making iPads mandatory in class. Retrieved from

Johnson, L., Adams, S., & Cummins, M. (2012). NMC Horizon report: 2012 K-12 edition. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium. Retrieved from

Johnson, L., Adams Becker, S., Estrada, V., Freeman, A., & Ludgate, H. (2013). NMC Horizon report: 2013 K-12 edition. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium. Retrieved from

Social networks within an educational organization (EDER 679.10)

Social networks have become more and more important in the last few years. With the introduction of Twitter, teachers no longer needed to rely on their confined school network to improve teaching practice. Today’s teacher can follow educators who share similar goals and values and engage in discussions on topics of their choice. They may also participate in discussions that matter to them through threaded hashtags such as #cdnedchat, #edtech, and #abed. Questions about learning can be discussed by a broader group of educators than those limited to your place of work (in this case your school).

IMG_0275Why have staff in some schools or school boards been isolated from social networking? I believe the underlying issue with social networking is that the education system is a structural functional organization (Kowch, 2013). This means that there is a certain hierarchy that leaders are expected to follow. When asked to manage within this model, one might view staff as tiny boxes (Kowch, 2013) nicely aligned into place with specific tasks and goals. Instead, staff’s expertise should be valued within a hierarchy and staff should be allowed to contribute beyond their hierarchical position within an organization. This means allowing for more social connections between staff that would not normally be connected through the formal hierarchical structure.

Do communities of practice move practice forward? (EDER 679.10)

Leadership in education has evolved since the 1900s. It started off with managing where there was “one Great Leader” (Kowch, 2013) and progressed to the model it is today, with a focus on distributed leadership. In the distributed leadership model, the idea of a communities of practice was introduced (DuFour & Eaker, 2005; Kowch, 2013). The purpose of a communities of practice is to engage a group of people who share the same ideals in a “process of collective learning” (Wenger, 2006). In the case of education, the purpose of a communities of practice is to work towards improving student learning. In Alberta, our communities of practice are called professional learning communities (DuFour, DuFour, Eaker, 2006).

In order for a professional learning community to move practice forward, its members need to collaboratively work towards a common goal (i.e. student learning) and members should be able to self-select into these communities (Kowch, 2013). Opportunities to meet and discuss student learning should be at the forefront of the discussion and should be on-going. This should not be a “meet 4 times a year” commitment. It should be sustainable, where teachers receive the administrative support and resources they need to improve student learning (Pols, 2013). Communities must be based on mutual trust and respect where members feel open to share opinions and get along.

A leader who is able to effectively ensure these conditions are met throughout the use of a communities of practice, would be able to move practice forward. Those who neglect the ability for self-choice have already created a disservice for the communities of practice as they will not have the buy-in engagement necessary in these forms of communities. They may experience more resistance or less desirable outcomes due to teachers not putting their best efforts forward.

Does your professional learning community have these necessary qualities?

Screen Shot 2013-07-09 at 9.13.55 PM


DuFour, R., DuFour, R., & Eaker, R. (2006). Professional learning communities at Work™ plan book. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.

Solution Tree. (n.d.). The power of professional learning communities at work: Bringing the big ideas to life. Retrieved from

Wenger, E. (2006). Communities of practice: A brief introduction [Web post]. Retrieved from

Understanding the TPACK framework (EDER 679.10)

The TPACK framework integrates knowledge in technology, pedagogy and content as illustrated in this picture.  This approach “goes beyond seeing these three knowledge bases in isolation” (Koehler, 2011), the knowledge in integrative and interconnected.

A good 21st century educator, should possess some level of understanding in all 3 categories represented by the center of the model (Kowch, 2013). I will provide an example of how a 21st century educator might ask questions using the different categories when considering the implementation of Twitter at the high school level:

Technological Knowledge (TK)

  • Has the school board approved this Web 2.0 tool?
  • Are students old enough to create an account?
  • Will students be able to access this Web 2.0 tool on the server?
  • Will they receive technical support with understanding how to use Twitter (i.e. hashtagging, Tweeting, following)?

Content Knowledge (CK)

  • What ELA outcomes would be targeted when Tweeting with a word limit of 140 characters?
  • Will spelling/syntax be considered if students Tweets are limited?
  • Will students be posting links to literary works discussed in class?

Pedagogical Knowledge (PK)

  • If my students learn best through social interactions, should Tweeting become a collaborative activity?
  • Will groups of students Tweet or individual Tweeting?
  • Will students receive mentorship through the process or will they be told what to do and then will do it?

Regardless of whether you are an edtech specialist, a learning leader or a generalist, one should always aim to use each section of the TPACK framework when planning instruction. If you fail to consider pedagogy when implementing Twitter, students may lack the instructional mentorship they require to successfully Tweet about learning. If you fail to consider content, students may end up Tweeting about anything, including subjects that are off-topic and not specific to the curriculum. If you fail to consider technology, you may not even realize that students have no technical support or may not be old enough to join Twitter. Ignoring certain sections can negatively affect learning and your instruction.

A well-rounded edtech specialist incorporates all aspects of the TPACK framework. If they didn’t, they would be an IT person (Kowch, 2013), as opposed to a technology educator.


Koehler, M. (2011). TPACK explained. Retrieved from

Kowch, E. (2013). EDER 679.10 Lecture.