Today was a great day in terms of verifying the power of Twitter and other online PLN opportunities. It's just amazing to me how much I can learn and how much support I feel from colleagues I've never even met.
Let me back up just a minute and tell you about the class I'm in right now for the M.Ed. in Digital Learning and Leading that I'm pursuing. The current class is titled "Disruptive Innovation in Education." The main goal of the class is to create/develop an innovation plan for something significant in your work situation that you hope to change. It's referred to as a "50,000 foot plan" to indicate that it is big and seen from a wide angle lens. If you follow my blog or know me even a little bit, you can probably guess that the subject of my disruptive innovation plan is to find a way to address digital literacy and digital citizenship in the curriculum from Pre-K through graduation, without teachers' seeing that as "oh great - one MORE thing I have to cover!"
This brings me back to the amazing Twitter PLN that I was in contact with today. Many of us will be attending ISTE at the end of June, and we were experimenting today with Declara. Through Declara and some private Twitter messages, I "met" William Jenkins and Kristen Mattson. William is from Scotland and Kristen is from Illinois, according to their respective Twitter profiles. How would I ever have run across either of these people without the connectivity power of Twitter?! William sent me a couple of articles on disruptive innovation, without even really knowing that I'm in a class on that topic right now! He's written some terrific blog posts that were very helpful and encouraged my thinking about my 50,000 foot plan. Kristen was astoundingly generous in sharing much of the work she's already done researching digital citizenship curricula. Two people who, at 8:00 this morning were complete strangers, are now stellar professional connections, and hopefully will grow into something even more.
Both of my new Twitter BFFs unwittingly encouraged me in my 50,000 foot plan. A wonderful teacher friend also confirmed that my idea might have some legs. The problem, as I see it, is that children need to own the skills of digital literacy in the same way they own math facts or reading comprehension skills. Teachers, unfortunately, either don't know these skills well enough to teach them themselves, or are just too darned busy with curricular content that is mandated, so children learn digital literacy skills haphazardly, if at all. I want to create a mechanism for students to create and share brief videos that explain the digital skills they possess. The students who create the videos solidify their understanding of the concept, and students who access the videos have an opportunity to learn skills that they might not learn otherwise.
My hope is that these student-created videos might be used by other students (either older or younger), parents, teachers, and other staff members. Because the videos will be very brief, featuring easy tips and tricks like navigating a website, capturing a URL, using shortcut keys, or being sure to paraphrase information found online, watching (or creating) the videos will not require the teacher to take precious time out of the instructional day to address the skills. The students will essentially own the learning and convey it to other students.
I have plenty of questions about this idea right now. My main ones: what will motivate students to want to visit a website like this? How will they find out about it? What would entice them to come back to the website? What would entice them to create videos that other students would learn from? As I'm typing this out, I'm thinking some kind of gamification could be layered on top of it - either badges or some other way of "leveling up" to show an attainment of knowledge.
This project is ongoing and I will be making many iterations along the way. Feel free to tweet any suggestions to me @nancywtech or reply in the comments section below. I mentioned, didn't I, that my PLN is phenomenal?! That means YOU! Thanks in advance for any suggestions.