Mission and Vision in Digital Education

Vision & Mission as a Digital Education Leader

As a digital education leader I will leverage technology for improved educational outcomes and a deeper understanding of content for both teachers and students. I will teach and advocate for the mindful use of technology. I will remind students and teachers of agency in relation to technology. I will remind staff and students that in our agency, we should consider disconnecting at times in order to develop our online as well as our offline selves, because both make up our whole self. Finally, I will remind students to consider broader moral and ethical concerns that are connected to their use of technology.

As a digital education leader, I am committed to being an accessible resource for other teachers and students. I will balance troubleshooting with instruction and professional development so that technology can be used in new ways to raise the standard of learning. I will be an available resource for teachers and someone who collaborates with them to strengthen instruction. My goal is to use technology to transform learning and I will encourage other educators to reflect on their practice to use technology to transform learning as well.

Another idea I would like to be mindful of is that I don’t oversimplify the use of technology. I recognize that using technology may not be intuitive for all educators and I will be a patient collaborator to help all staff to feel that they can use technology in a transformative way with their students, because incorporating technology into instruction will help educators to better connect with and motivate students. Teachers have much to consider, such as, desired outcomes, privacy, possible misuse and many other factors before adopting a new technology. Therefore, agency in consideration of technology is an important principle for my own integration of technology as well as in my mentorship of other teachers.

I want students to experience the transformative power of technology. I think that allowing open ended representation of final products, when possible, along with guided instruction in the use of technology will allow my students to redefine their learning and their production. Students are inundated with technology in their daily lives. Students need to understand the numerous way that they can leverage technology to augment their learning. Developing mindfulness plus moral and ethical thinking skills will cause students to pause before posting, copying and pasting or remixing ideas and putting them online. I want help students think critically about their use of technology. Using technology should be a choice not just an automatic action or a part of the background. I want students to be excited about using technology to extend their learning. I want them to creatively think of ways to incorporate technology into their learning. I will provide structure, understanding and time for reflection so that students realize the nuanced ways that technology affects their lives. I will also provide students with a grounding in what it means to be a digital citizen. As digital citizens students will use technology ethically and with increasing fluency for collaboration or communication locally as well as globally. (ISTE 5a-c).

Mindfulness and Distraction

As an educator who is teaching in a digital era, I see a need for students to raise the level of mindfulness and their awareness of distraction regarding their use of technology and social media in the classroom as well as outside of the classroom. Technology is pervasive. It is all too easy to be enveloped by the vastness of the internet. Therefore, mindfulness and distraction are concepts that should be taught to all students, starting at an early age, to help them prepare for and cope with what they experience in the online world. To me this is the groundwork that will lead to a more complete understanding of digital citizenship. It will begin to teach them about agency. It will allow students to better understand and connect with modeling and facilitating safe, healthy, legal and ethical uses of digital information and technologies (ISTE 5b).

Learning to Practice Agency, and Disconnecting

Using technology is a choice. We may feel pressure from society or from other factors to use technology increasingly because that is the general pattern around us, however, we still have human agency. With guidance from teachers and parents students can learn to resist the temptation to use technology at all times. Parents should be empowered to set limits on technology use for themselves as well as for their children. Agency plays a role in daily online decisions. Is posting this joke consistent with my moral and ethical values? Do I agree with the entirety of this article? Would my friend give me permission to post this picture? Did I give credit to this author or artist? Those are thoughts that should be in the forefront of our minds when we are choosing to post, blog, comment, repost or remix online media. Finally, there are moments in life where we have to unplug in order to be completely present. It is when we are disconnected, alone with our thoughts,in conversation with others, or sharing some activity with others that we will feel completely present. The following idea from Borgman resonates with me and I think that youth today should consider the message here as well and disconnect at times,

we have to give such occasions [times where we experience the nearness of divinity] a secure place and a regular time in our lives. Contemplation needs a cloister, a space where the splendor of the simple is secure from mindless distraction and busyness. (Borgman 2012, p. 9)

Borgman is saying that this won’t happen on it’s own, we need to make time to disconnect, in order to develop our whole selves. As Rheingold (2012) says, [sometimes one should] “throw some sand into the machinery that automatizes your attention.” (p. 50). Disconnecting relates back to mindfulness, being mindful requires reflection and metacognition. All of those practices will help lead to moral and ethical thinking.

Moral and Ethical Use of Technology

I will foster reflection and mindfulness and develop a sense of agency and encourage students to disconnect. Together those two concepts will surely help students develop into more well rounded citizens, however, moral and ethical use of technology is also necessary for learners in this digital age. Consider this quote from Carrie James in Disconnected: Youth, New Media, and the Ethics Gap:

The beliefs and values an individual holds–about honesty, respect, responsibility and what it means to be a good person–can provide an anchor, assuming these moral values are salient to his or her identity and are considered and invoked when a moral or an ethical situation arises. (James 2014, p. 120)

Accessibility, being always on, social media and constantly changing technologies provide a steady stream of ethical dilemmas that are always right at our fingertips noticed or not. Students would benefit from a moral anchor when experiencing a dilemma. Again James provides a framework for considering these dilemmas and provides a hope for how to begin to give young people the tools to navigating these murky waters.

On a practical level, thoughtful, ethically sensitive identities can be cultivated when dialogue about moral and ethical issues is a regular part of a young person’s life–when frequent support and incentives exist for grappling with and debating dilemmas in light of different moral beliefs, values, and interests. (James 2014, p. 113)

As educators we can make time to grapple with and debate these dilemmas. It is our job to help cultivate minds and to guide young people to consider differing beliefs. That has long been a focus, now we need to continue that work and extend it to technology and online lives. Ultimately I want my students to grow into genuinely ethical people in their online and offline lives.

Being genuinely ethical requires much soul-searching, conversing with informed peers, a willingness to admit that one has been wrong, and striving to do better the next time. These steps are far more difficult to execute than a simple delineation of what is ethical and what is not. (Davis & Gardner 2013, p. 172).

As a technology leader I am committed to starting this discussing with students and encouraging other educators to have similar discussions. We want what is best for our students understanding that media and technology is a part of their lives. Therefore, we must provide them with the necessary tools to develop the whole self in all areas of their lives, including their online lives. I look forward to a generation of mindful, deliberate moral and ethical young people.

Resources

Borgmann, A. “Contemplation in a Technological Era: Learning from Thomas Merton.” (Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith) Volume 64, Number 1, March 2012. Page 9.

Davis, K., & Gardner, H. (2013). The App Generation: How today’s youth navigate identity, intimacy and imagination in a digital world. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

ISTE Standards for Coaches. Retrieved from http://www.iste.org/standards/standards/standards-for-coaches

James, C. (2014). Disconnected: Youth, New Media, and the Ethics Gap. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

Rheingold, H. (2012). Attention! Why and How to Control Your Mind’s Most Powerful Instrument. Net Smart (pp. 34-75). Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.