COETAIL Course 2: Continental Connections

Course two is in the books or should I say in the blogs. Our group of international educators overcame both time and space as we collectively crosschecked and improved a Responsible Use Agreements for my current school UWC Thailand.  My awesome team included Coetail members Carolin Escobar currently living in the USA and Kehri Magalad currently living in Qatar.  We were also joined by Maria José Terán, a friend of Carolin’s and current tech coach at Carolin’s school.  Maria currently works out of Ecuador and happily linked up with us to offer her professional perspective and expertise.  Our group Google Hangout was an overall success, allowing four different people from four different countries, across a 12-hour time zone, to share and discuss ideas in real time. It was there that the seeds for our RUP idea were planted. We then played to our strengths and took ownership of different parts of the project, communicating through Twitter and in the comments of our Google Docs.

Looking back, I think might have benefited from using a social collaboration tool such as Whatapps or Viber but, we pulled it nonetheless.

Our Google Hangout

After some digging, I found that there are quite a few different platforms beyond Whatapps that we could have used to communicate. Here are 10  great social collaboration alternatives to WhatsApp.

RUP Background Information

Regarding the RUP, the document itself was a bit dated and not really owned by the students.  This year,  I have been tasked with reviewing and refining many of the UWCT documents that pertain to digital citizenship.

As a Kindergarten teacher, the first thing I noticed was they were left off of this document.  We decided to add them to this document because we all agreed that they are more than capable of understanding how to take care of equipment. Furthermore, after weeks of digital citizenship and footprint readings, blog posts and TED Talks, I realized how important it is to be ready to equip and empower young learners with technology that’s not being micromanaged.

In addition, I believe that it’s important to teach Digital Citizenship and responsible use at this age level especially at my school if we want to create any sense of vertical alignment in our primary school.

We also noticed that within the document there is also no mention of privacy. Safety is mentioned but there is nothing pertaining to privacy. This is another reason why we should have ISTE and Common Sense as our backbone, ensuring that we do not have any other oversights.  You’ll notice on our RUP that we have used the ISTE standard 3a, 3b, 3c, & 3d, all which fall under the category of digital citizenship.


Because we had many chats on students ownership, we also added a digital citizenship e-book for grades K-2. This interactive e-book will help engage our younger learners and keep the focus on digital citizenship in a developmentally appropriate way.

The eBook could easily be shared and personalized through a QR code, and or downloaded off of the web. This would be especially helpful if teachers wanted to replace the images with images of their own student’s in action, modeling how to be safe, responsible and respectful digital citizens.

Collaborating on this project was a wonderful learning experience. Using Google docs and slides to collaborate really helped us all create, communicate, and house all of our progress along the way. Gsuite for education continues to provide everyone with functional and user-friendly tools. Although time was against us, Google helped us connect globally and create this great cross-continental collaborative project.

The Internet is…

an information superhighway

a web

a network

a global system

a verb

a platform

Whatever term you choose to associate it with, there’s no denying the internet has changed the way we communicate, behave, and learn.

John Stewart, Comedian-writer and former host of the daily show,  once proclaimed that  “The internet is just a world passing around notes in a classroom.”

It wasn’t until reading  Jeff’s Utech’s book, Reach, where I realized the symbiotic relationship between the user and the web or, in John Stewart’s case the notes and the note takers.  The more you work it, the more it works for you. Take Twitter for example, in an instance, you can throw out a question or idea to your PLN and receive global perspectives feeding back to you instantaneously. Social media, although quite prominent, isn’t the be all and end of the internet but, it has certainly changed the landscape. How about others like Yelp, Uber, or Amazon. All of these sites/apps depend on a user-generated rating based system in order to operate effectively. The ability we have as a global contributor, wielding that kind of power and influence is a massive responsibility that we’re not even fully aware of.  In fact, many of us daily do more than just participate with the web on a daily basis. Perhaps, are you going on holiday soon? How many of you have already checked the reviews on Trip Advisor before you booking that hotel or tour? If you are beyond the participatory stage of the web perhaps you’ve even contributed by writing a review, discussing your approval or loathing of a certain establishment. Either way, once you move into the role of active contributor you shape the overall user experience for everyone, better or worse.  

The truth is the internet is just made up of our collective consciousness, resources, and information. It’s our involvement and our role in the equation that makes work. It takes both creators and consumers to keep the net thriving. This was evident nearly a decade ago when on December 13, 2006, Time Magazine named its person of the year “You”.

Now think about how much more relevant that nomination seems after a decade of social media, interactive sites and the rise of mobile devices, personalizing and customizing our individual online experience. Keep in mind that there is no moderator overseeing all. Where we go as a global society so goes the internet. It’s also part of our role to keep it kind, factual, and productive.  An often overlooked part of our role, that seems to be reflective our current times. Speaking of being reflective, let’s have a look back at what one minute on the internet in 2017 looks like.

The Internet is… an opportunity for change 

The video, Extracurricular Empowerment, showcases how powerful of a change agent the internet can. Martha and people all over the world like her understand how to harness and leverage this power and make it work for them. For every Martha, there are hundreds of other students that have one way or another found their voice and audience on the web.  It’s not out of the question for today’s digital natives to want to aspire to be Youtubers. After all,  Hollywood movie stars are so 2016, and the allure of influences of megastars like Casey Neistat and Fun for Louis make it look cool and easy. 

Here are11 of the biggest web changes in the last 11 years.

These days it’s easier than ever to start producing content, attract an audience and then continue the cycle while watching your subscriber count grow. Our students know this? Do we as teachers know that they know this? Do we allow for them to flourish under these conditions? How does your school react to and cater to students as digital change agents?  Do they tighten up the parameters like initial reaction of Martha’s school board or let them harness the opportunity?   Here are twenty-five other ways to leverage the power of the internet and start creating!

The Internet is…. a level playing field.

Not only does the internet level the playing field, It gives us the ball and expects us to run with it. Martha Payne did exactly that. How will you empower your students to do so?  How do you build good skills for our students to turn into children like Martha? 

The truth is we still don’t know the full magnitude of the internet’s untapped potential. Eric Schmidt from Google stated, “The Internet is the first thing that humanity has built that humanity doesn’t understand, the largest experiment in anarchy that we have ever had.”

Final Wonderings: The internet will be….?

Will the internet continue to remain a level playing field or will more and more countries follow suit by enacting their own “Great Fire Wall” If you’re from the USA, you’re probably wondering what the future entails with the looming FCC regulations. We’ve seen massive changes within the internet since that Time magazine cover, what’s next?  What will the internet be in 20 years, 50 years?  How do you prepare your students for what’s next or as Schmidt’s said “the largest experiment in anarchy that we have ever had.”..?