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.”..? 

Bridging the Digital Divide

We live in a digital world, but we’re fairly analog creatures.

-Omar Ahmad

 Just think about the five most important technology trends of the 21st century: search, smartphones, mobile operating systems, media, and the cloud. Now think about whether or not any if of those trends made it into your school? Perhaps, if you’re lucky, they all did. Things change fast in the digital realm and the increasing changes have shaken up learning so much that schools are just now beginning to absorb the aftershocks. More and more schools and teachers are encouraging students to post to blogs, text each other, and do their own work on their own devices brought from home. The learning benefits of flip classrooms, gamification, and social media have taken the internet by storm all while delivering overwhelmingly positive results. Generally speaking, learning looks different now. Much of the firm foundation that education has comfortably sat upon for the last three decades has shifted and it’s time now that all of us recognize and admit that the landscape will remain altered forever.

Update Available

The following article from @MindShiftKQED titled, “Making Media Literacy Central to Digital Citizenship” does an excellent job summarizing the evolution of digital citizenship, alongside the rising popularity of teaching and learning through videos on the web. Seeing how students consume information and interact with each other on the web continues to change and evolved, it’s important to note that digital citizenship in itself should not remain stationary.  Tanner Higgin from Common Sense Education, who authored the above @MindShiftKQED article states that,

“We need to move from a conflation of digital citizenship with internet safety and protectionism to a view of digital citizenship that’s pro-active and prioritizes media literacy and savvy. A good digital citizen doesn’t just dodge safety and privacy pitfalls, but works to remake the world, aided by digital technology…”

So the question becomes,  why haven’t we considered changing the way we view Digital Citizenship after all of these years? A DigCit version 2.017.  Why can’t we look at Digital Citizenship as an evolving software or digital platform that occasionally needs updating? We update our phones, our apps, and our laptops at least once a year but, still somehow choose to maintain an outdated version of Digital Citizenship in our minds and in our classrooms.  

Engineering with Empathy 

In my view,  school documents pertaining to Digital Citizenship should be intertwined or merged with the Communication Charters or Essential Agreements that mirror how we speak and care for each other in the real world. This would help the school develop a shared vision of Digital Citizenship while also acknowledging the importance of including all stakeholders. It also places it at the forefront of many discussions pertaining to the parallel skills in and outside of a digital space.  

Getting the students involved in the creative process allows for each voice to be heard and for each class to develop a collective understanding of its importance within the school and at home.

The synthesizing of these two school-related documents should also occur with more explicit emphasis on Common Sense Media and the ISTE Standards.  This collective culture pertaining to #DigCit can be spearheaded by the admin or leadership team, but ultimately will be individualized and purposefully designed for and by each grade level. 

The following infographic from outlines the parallels between being a good citizen and a good digital citizen.
Citizenship in the Digital Age Infographic

Find more education infographics on e-Learning Infographics via 

Perhaps, once a common understanding is reached within each grade level, we could then ask teachers to share and compare their “tech agreements.” This will help the school and the teachers develop a better understanding of what it looks like it the grade level above and below them.  It also allows them to survey what the students want. This slow burn to the vertical alignment starts with the same sequence with teachers as it does with the students. Develop a shared vision by unpacking the language and understanding of each teacher’s perspective, and make connections between being a good citizen and good digital citizenship.  Afterwards, take the time to go through that delicate process of understanding the causation, the parameters, and the process to allow student-teacher ownership. This type of discussion will probably be ongoing, but that is a good thing!

The bridge between the digital divide separating digital natives from digital immigrants and outdated views from updated perspectives can be engineered with empathy, just as long as we don’t lose focus of our shared set of values. We can’t grow too comfortable in our acceptance of the way things are either, even if they might be okay today. Technology is an industry of increasing disruption and change, but within disruption and change, there is always an opportunity for growth, refinement, and behavioral action. Positively laying the structural framework, that connects everyone is our role as educators.

Final Wondering?

How do you identify consistencies that help bridge the digital divide and get everyone over to the same side?

Professionally Navigating Social Media

What do you know about your own digital footprint?”

“Have you ever reflected on the imprints you left behind?

These are the questions that we need to be asking both students and teachers.  It doesn’t matter if you’re a digital native or not, the physical realm and the digital realm have become so interwoven that everyone these days has a digital footprint. Technology and the radical social changes that come attached to it have completely changed our everyday lives. Social media and technology, whether you like it or not, have completely changed the way we interact with each other. The smartphone has replaced the camera. Cloud-based storage has replaced photo albums. You may not realize it but, you definitely have some left some sort imprint out there on the web. Don’t believe me, just have a look at this outrageous snippet from Business Insider  

That’s right. An estimated 120 billion photos will be taken in 2017 and a mere 10 % of them will be taken by a digital camera. 89.7% will be taken by a device that is most likely linked to social media. That’s a lot of potential uploads.  Keep in mind that this is just data pertaining to photos, it does not even account for the rest of one’s digital footprint such as emails, texts, forums, etc.

We’ve have agreed to trade-off our personal privacy and information for convenience, comfort, and entertainment. That die has already been cast. What we now must do now is self-reflect on the type of imprints we as educators have left behind and help others understand the importance and impact of their footprints from here on out.

A Professional Presence

In 2017 a  digital presence will certainly help aid you in attaining a job. Understand, however, that if left uncheck and uncared for it can at the same time lead to your future endeavors. An article from the Irish Independent, titled, Why your digital footprint could ruin your career, isn’t intended to be a scare tactic. It’s more of a wake-up call, bringing to light the awareness of the shifting guidelines revolving around our privacy our, digital choices, and real-life repercussions.

I know that I’ve gotten many interviews and at least one job partly because of my professional digital footprint. The interview mentioned looking at the contents of my professional teaching blog and my twitter. 
The following infographic below provides an interesting look into how recruiters use social networks to screen candidates.

In my last blog, I linked an article that focused on cleaning up your digital footprint.  Perhaps for teachers unsure of there’s, this would be a good place to start in order to develop and maintain one’s professional presence.

A Healthy Dose of Digital Awareness


Student’s should be taught about cyber ethics and netiquette from an early age just like they are taught about diet and well-being. I currently do it with my Kindergarten students.  I think it’s important that we look at maintaining personal protection and privacy the same way we look after our physical selves.  It is this mindset that parents, students, and teachers need to adopt. It’s essential that teachers maintain a healthy dose of digital safety awareness. It’s equally important for our students to fully understand the complexities of today’s digital age and how choosing to create a negative or unhealthy web persona could potentially jeopardize their future. More modeling from the top down, (admin to teachers, parents to students and even student to student), will help us all instill this paradigm shift into our own teaching and learning journeys, in and outside of the classroom.

Some teachers might view the digital realm and the physical world as two separate entities, but to the children and students who have grown up as digital natives, it’s all one.  The line between our personal self and our social media/ avatars is so strong that, Elon Musk claimed that we’re already cyborgs. Have a look at his entire chat from the 2016 Code Conference below

Final Wondering: With Great Power comes great (global) responsibility…

In that same video clip from the 2016 Code Conference, Elon Musk also mentioned that “We have more power than the president of the united states had 20 years ago.”  Is it not our civic duty to educate and encourage the next generation of web users?   Would it be wise to embedding #digcit classes into the curriculum like social & emotional learning, our essential agreements, and other approaches to learning?  Afterall, we need to teach students to become good citizens first and foremost. How many of you have thought about tieing it into the Global Goals for sustainable development?? If our goal as teachers is to make sure we leave the future of the world in the hands of good human beings then we need to start holding our digital footprint into the same high esteem as we hold our carbon footprint.  My final visual aid is from a Twitter chat last week, summing up my thoughts on weaving the real and digital world together with the same moral fabric. 

Connect Safely

In this brave new digital world, where nearly anything can be instantly accessed, what can you do to ensure you are connecting safely and protecting your privacy?

Here are just a few things you can do about it.

  1. Think Before You Post
  2. Be Aware that on the Internet, “Free” Still Comes with a Price
  3. Clean up your Digital Footprint 
  4. Seek out Resources and Continue to Educate Yourself

Speaking of resources, the following playlist, titled Protect, was created by @teachwatts and centers around privacy and internet safety.

Have a look, below.

Adopting the Mindset & Maintaining Personal Protection

In addition to students and teachers maintain a healthy level of digital safety awareness it’s important for the parents to fully understand the complexities of today’s digital age. After flipping through the COETAIL Course 2 Flipboard, I came across two articles that unraveled misconceptions and myths about internet safety, particularly on social media. The first article, What Social Media and the selfie Generation did to my teenage daughter,  written by Candice Curry, provides the perspective of a concerned parent who comes to realize some of the benefits of sharing, once one assumes positive intent. The article, as well as the mother’s change in attitude towards social media, is surmised with this phrase, “These are good kids doing their best to navigate through a world that has instant access to everything and every event the moment it happens.”  

She’s right, too.

I honestly couldn’t imagine what it must be like growing up as an impressionable teenager with the looming presence of social media around 24/7.

 The second article breaks down myths about kids internet safety and once again showcases that the positives outweigh the negatives, once one is educated enough to take the proper precautions. Once teachers and parents are educated than the misconceptions can start to unravel.  Changing one’s attitude about students on social media is just the beginning, and dare I say only half the battle.  Once the perception is changed the level of awareness towards one online safety should be reviewed and scrutinized often. 

What I mean is that maintaining personal protection is a mindset and teachers need to adopt, model, and instill this paradigm shift into their own teaching and learning within their classroom.  Parents do too. This communal effort that brings about positive consistency, knowledge, and strategies, will help our children as they navigate their own digital journey. The following ISTE standard for educators lays it out in a clear and concise way, while at the same time promoting the critical thinking skills needed in order to embrace the mindset of digital safety and security.


3b. Establish a learning culture that promotes curiosity and critical examination of online resources and fosters digital literacy and media fluency. 

We must remember that this mindset, like technology, will grow, change and require constant upkeep.  As potential digital threats such as hacking, phishing, identity theft, and ransomware continue to evolve, so should our critical thinking skills and level of awareness. One might feel overwhelmed by this notion but if we continue to share and look out for each other like the article about Social Media describes, then we will be about to protect each other from the potential pitfalls out there on the web. We should assume positive intent and take a communal approach to being vigilant and looking out for another so that we are educated and equipped to step confidently and connect safely in the digital world.


Final Wonderings
With Great Data Comes Great Responsibility

 Is self-selecting into Big Data unavoidable? The article from the Guardian, When Data gets creepy, is heavy albeit a must-read for those wondering about the responsibility, or lack thereof, that internet companies have with the handling of our personal information.  When it comes to maintaining that healthy awareness of one’s privacy and responsible use, we must not lose focus on those who create the “Terms and Conditions” in which we self-select into.  How do we as educators seek transparency from these big data companies so that we can ensure that they too act ethically,  responsibly, and follow their own acceptable use policies? 



Being Internet Awesome in Kindergarten

We all know that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and that sharing is caring but, in this new digital age of social media, mashups, memes, the line of ownership it becoming as blurred as Robin Thicke’s copyright infringed song. Perhaps he would have benefited from first viewing this free to use public Prezi.

With streaming sites, P2P, & Youtube now more popular than ever, more and more artists, creators and consumers are experiencing and/or violating some very similar copyright issues.  As an educator and quasi-digital native, I’m fully aware of how easy it is, in this day and age, to share or use something without citing the original source.

Regarding my own digital footprint and this blog specifically, when I post a snippet from an article or quote, I ensure that I have permission to embed it and/or link it back to the appropriate site in order to give credit where credit is due. When it comes to photos I use for my blog posts, I make sure that the image is either from my personal collection or that I have asked the person who took the photo for their permission. The same probably could be said for quite a few of the places I have previously lived and worked.

Copyright laws here in Thailand are definitely not black and white. Living in Phuket, one could go buy a bootleg DVD of a movie that’s still in theaters at the local night market down the street. Obviously, this throws a wrench into one’s attempt to teach and model copyright consideration. I have noticed this at nearly all international postings throughout Asia and Africa.

One way to combat this, in addition to modeling fair use in the classroom, is to educate our parent communities. If we can get the parents on board that’s half of the battle no matter where we’re located throughout the globe. I do think as educators that this is a large part of our responsibility. Without proper parental buy-in, we as teachers are going against the grain. I also think having a parent workshop would be hugely beneficial for our parent community. Like the mother mentions Youtube video below. She’s not able to be around here son 24/7 to protect him from all that is the internet. Parents (and older siblings) need to understand the role that they play in this equation and if they can model and promote proper internet etiquette and copyright procedures then we become a much stronger united front when educating our children.

It’s never too young to discuss and teach about plagiarism. Similar to my venture into teaching Digital Citizenship, I believe that with the proper delivery and age-appropriate resources, students aged 5 and 6 can certainly make connections to what’s there’s and what isn’t. It must start small be and always remain relevant. Perhaps it could begin with with the student’s claiming ownership of their own work first then widening the lens to the classroom, school community, and internet. Speaking of internet,  Be Internet Awesome by Google would be surely the most effective way for me to teach this concept to my Kindergarten students. It will require some scaffolding and guidance but it certainly has all the tools and looks fun and engaging. It’s also aligned with the ISTE standards!

Be Internet Awesome is AWESOME

I love that the learning is delivered through a game. I’ve recently been looking the benefits of Gamification within the classroom and I’m loving what I see. Having said that, I think that the timing would be perfect to roll both out at the same time. So, I recently downloaded their free curriculum and plan to adapt just light slightly to use with my Kindergarten students.  I’m hopeful that once they can understand and apply the new vocabulary, they’ll see how this connects to our current look into digital citizenship and footprints. Having such responsive and engaging platform, in Google’s Interland will further reinforce what’ we’ve already learned in the best way possible, play.

Final Wonderings
To Meme or Not to Meme? 

As much as I’m a fan of mashups and remixes, I have been thinking about starting out small, like to get into the creation of memes in my Kindergarteners Once we develop an understanding of the vocabulary within the Be Internet Awesome & Digital Citizenship journey, I’d like to give it a shot. What’s your experience with Memes? Have you ever tried to create any with your class? Currently, my student’s are obsessed with emojis and using symbols to convey meaning. I’m hoping that a venture into the world of memes could be our next step.

Thoughts or advice?