Connected Educators A-Z: D is for Digital Citizenship

As our lives are led to a great degree online, we are daily tasked with thinking about how our online actions and the actions of others impact us. In the early days of the web, it seems as though there was a big focus on online safety. Safety online is VERY important. We need to assure that there are safe measures employed and advocated by all.

Typically, when people act with mutual respect and responsibility, we say that they are good citizens. When this is in place in online interactions, we call it digital citizenship.

On top of the safety issue though is a real and recurring need to talk about appropriate ways to interact. As technology evolves and reinvents itself daily, these issues are ever changing too.

Digital Citizenship Issues

  • How to comment appropriately
  • How to license your work and cite the work of others
  • How to keep private information private
  • How to speak to a global audience
  • What are the rules for using particular social networks? How can I make sure I comply?
  • What makes up a positive online reputation?

When my children were small, there were daily reminders that were part of our daily lives. Be careful, don’t cross the street without an adult, don’t talk to strangers’. When we look at young people today, do we feel as thought they are getting the right reminders about online safety and responsible online behavior? Are these imparted daily by adults that students trust?  Below I am sharing my updated list of Digital Citizenship Resources. Which are your favorites? What would you add?

When schools and families take the time to share good digital citizenship practice, it is of benefit to us as individuals and to our global family!

17 Digital Citizenship Resources For School Leaders, Teacher Leaders and Families



These sites have resources for teaching Digital Citizenship in the classroom

  1. Google Interactive Lessons
  2. Google’s Family Safety Center
  3. Common Sense Media
  4. Netsmartz
  5. Be Cyber Wise
  6. Digital Citizenship Site
  7. Yahoo Safely
  8. Cable in the Classroom
  9. FOSI Family Online Safety Institute

Blogs and Projects

These blogs address topics around Digital Citizenship frequently

  1. Anne Collier – Net Family News
  2. Danah Boyd
  3. Innovative Educator Blog
  4. Digiteen –

Research To Know About

This research is related to the topic and can provide insights

  1. Zero to Eight -Children’s Mobile Technology Use in America by Common Sense Media
  2. Youth Safety on a Living Internet Study  – Study
  3. The Good Play Project
  4. Pew Internet and American Life Project
  5. Netsmartz Statistics

Related Posts
Online Safety Bridge Between Home and School –  TechConnects
Getting Started with Digital Citizenship – TechConnects

Web Filtering Checklist

Tide takes dunes



When schools make web filtering and blocking decisions, they need to be sure that they are not also blocking learning, blocking productivity, blocking progress.  Shifts have occurred widely over the last couple of years in schools regarding the filtering question. Security still remains a top priority. However, the question of what content to block and not block is one where the winds of change are continually blowing.

Fighting the tide

Take the story of new dunes installed at a beach. I remember when new dunes were added at a beach near my home. They were tall and mighty. Surely they would serve their purpose. Two months and one very big storm later, something happened. The dunes were washed away to a great extend. Two full blocks worth were gone.  The powerful ocean overtook them.

I think in many ways this is what is happening with filters and web content. Though many schools and organizations block and carefully keep the web at bay, web technology and its ever changing nature continues to command attention. Nature takes it’s course. People find new ways to access web content. Students use proxy sites or their smartphone.  Teachers become frustrated in their attempts to access content. Valuable time can be spent working on solutions.

The topic of filtering is an important one. The web offers more and more educational content.   Having a proactive and collaborative strategy is essential when making decisions on filtering today. It will equip our students better in the long run.

Natural Shifts

Blocking was once a simple issue. Block inappropriate content such as hate sites, chat sites, instant messaging functions, inappropriate images and more and you were all set. Then came the proliferation of web 2.0 sites, the growth of collaborative technologies and impact of social tools.

What were once easy decisions have become sticky ones.  What was once black and white has become many shades of gray like the changing tides of the ocean. What should schools consider? View this checklist for evaluating your strategy.

Checklist for Evaluating Filtering Strategies


  • Look at laws and government guidelines to be followed – Consider CIPA. Often their requirements are misconstrued to be more strict that they actually are.
  • Look at district and local rules – Are there standards that our district has put forth? What prior policies exist?
  • Look at security concerns – Consider viruses, malware, bandwidth, access and more. What priorities exist?
  • Look at existing feedback – What do admins, teachers and students report about the filter? Does it meet educational needs?
  • Look at the existing filter – Is it flexible? Does it allow for multiple filtering levels for administrators, teachers and students? If not, when can we upgrade to add more functionality?
  • Look at current processes – How easily can teachers and students get access to sites for educational use?
  • Look at your decision making team – Who determines which sites are blocked? CIOs and IT are needed. Educational leaders and teachers should also be involved in this decision making.
  • Look at current educational initiatives – Are current initiatives requiring expanded access. If so, are the best web communication and collaboration tools available for this purpose?
  • Consider Options that are Win/Win – Is a walled garden approach an approach that might work for your school? With sites such as this, social and collaborative technologies coexist with more tightened security.
  • Look at the Policies in place – How often does your school or district evaluate your approach to filtering? The web evolves daily as do educational means for using web content.
  • Look at Digital Literacy supports – Are you teaching all parties how to use the web safely and appropriately?  Education is essential. Given appropriate education in place, we are equipping educators and students with the decision making skills that will serve them long after they have left us.

Mock on, mock on,’tis all in vain! You throw the sand against the wind, And the wind blows it back again. Voltaire Rousseau

Filter Fitness Guidelines

  • Know the rules. Don’t interpret them so that your implementation is more strict that the law
  • Upgrade your filter and build in flexibility
  • Involve Educators
  • Focus on educational purpose
  • Be aware of the changing landscape
  • Educate your community as to your approach
  • Balance network security needs with educational needs
  • Go for win win. Work to benefit all parties involved.
  • Reassess often
  • Make Digital literacy and citizenship education a priority

Given the wide range of content out there which has sound educational value, this can no longer be strictly an IT level decision.  Schools and organizations can’t  continue to block strictly and expect to reap the benefits of today’s web. If we want to provide
the most relevant education for the 21st Century, we need to have a filtering strategy that is informed and flexible.

This is cross posted on School CIO

Related Resources

CIPA – Children’s Internet Protection Act
Digital Citizenship Resources for SchoolsTechConnects
Speak Up Survey – Input on Filtering Listed
EdWeek – Filtering Debate

15 Digital Citizenship Resources for Schools

For School Leaders, Teacher Leaders and Families



These sites have resources for teaching Digital Citizenship in the classroom

  1. Common Sense Media
  2. Netsmartz
  3. Be Cyber Wise
  4. Digital Citizenship Site
  5. Yahoo Safely
  6. Cable in the Classroom
  7. FOSI Family Online Safety Institute


These blogs address topics around Digital Citizenship frequently

  1. Anne Collier – Net Family News
  2. Danah Boyd
  3. Innovative Educator Blog

Research To Know About

This research is related to the topic and can provide insights

  1. Zero to Eight -Children’s Mobile Technology Use in America by Common Sense Media
  2. Youth Safety on a Living Internet Study  – Study
  3. The Good Play Project
  4. Pew Internet and American Life Project
  5. Netsmartz Statistics

Related Posts
Online Safety Bridge Between Home and School –  TechConnects
Getting Started with Digital Citizenship – TechConnects


This post is cross posted on TechConnects by Nancy Caramanico


Educational Technology Lessons from Steve Jobs

A New Teacher’s Classroom Walls

When I first entered the classroom as an elementary school technology teacher in 1997, I was given a set of posters. As any new teacher would be, I was happy to have some posters to decorate my classroom.

Would they be pictures of computers? of technology? Great!
Would they be instructions? Directions for students? Wonderful!

The posters I found in the box were none of those things.
Instead they were photos of various innovators, thinkers, doers. Einstein, Ghandi,  Jim Henson. It was not what was expecting but I selected some and put them on my classroom walls. Over time, during that first year of teaching,  I got the message.

Think Different.

As it turned out, the posters were part of Apple’s 1997 campaign called Think Different. Posters were sent to schools everywhere.

As a leader in the technology industry, Jobs pushed for more, for better.  With normal market competition in place, innovation was the goal for not just Apple but for all.

It could be said that this drive impacted the whole industry.

New discoveries come from many companies, and many sectors each and every day. Netbooks, tablets, smart phones all have arisen from a drive for improvement that each of us benefits from in some way.

Below is a checklist of lessons for Educational Technology. This is the list I created. What would you add?

Checklist for EdTech from Steve Jobs

  1. Plan far ahead – Think beyond what is needed now. Be creative. Imagine what is possible. Plan. Dream.
  2. Make the technology matter – Figure out how to use the power of technology to truly make a difference in the lives of children, teachers. Research and apply.
  3. Keep it simple – Technology does not have to be complex to advance the work your students do.
  4. Focus – Adding more and more technology intensive initiatives can be counterproductive. Focus on what is best for teachers and students and implement it well. Don’t skimp on professional learning time and collaboration time for teachers.
  5. Gather Input – Ask people what they need.  Find out how can you help them.  Use the feedback to improve what is offered. Better still – anticipate their needs.
  6. Get your best people involved – Find out who is interested in exploring new uses of technology for learning, for connecting. Empower them with the time and tools to share and do more. Encourage positive teamwork.
  7. Persevere – You may not see the results you expect right away. Stick with it. We are preparing students for their future. Technology is interwoven in much of what we do today and our students need to be prepared to learn and work with the right tools and the right mindset for connected learning.
  8. Believe – In a world of rapid change, we can’t predict exactly where we are going or what change will be brought into our classrooms via technology. Believe that by teaching our children to critically explore and evaluate new forms of learning, we are preparing them for an enlightening future which is unwritten as of yet.

That first computer classroom of mine had a hodge podge of different computers and operating systems. Eventually it had all new pcs with cdroms!

Use the technology you have to do the best you can, advocate strongly for more and above all do use the power of technology with a deliberate and dedicated purpose – to make a difference in the education, the lives of your teachers and students.


This is cross posted on School CIO published by Tech and Learning Magazine

Choosing a Student Information System

School Necessities
School Necessities

In the age of information, schools truly must have a
quality means of tracking, sorting and reporting on student data. A quality student information system can support student achievement thus enhancing the programs you offer.

This function is offered in various forms by
software designated as ‘Student Information Systems’. These decisions for choosing the software used are often made by school
Technology Directors and School CIOs. Whether you are an individual school
or a district looking to make a decision such as this, it helps to have a checklist handy before you begin. This helps to make
your decision a strategic one and one that you can stand behind.

What types of data is contained in a Student Information System? 

  • Grades
  • Enrollment
  • Schedules
  • Progress Reports
  • Attendance
  • Test Scores
  • Discipline
  • Career Choices
  • Medical Information
  • School/Parent Communications
  • Meal Plans
  • Tuition
  • Teacher Assignments
  • Teacher Communications and Websites
  • Teacher Employment Data

Here are the most common functions.  There are others depending on the system chosen. Most vendors allow you to customize and choose only those functions or modules that you truly need.
Many schools moved to implement data systems after the introduction
of NCLB which discussed the importance of sharing data with parents and a means for
accountability. NCLB specifically stated that information should be readily available to parents.

In the age of Web 2.0, many parents expect interaction and quick communications. An upgrade to your current information
system may be needed to incorporate newer uses of technology and newer social media.

Items to Consider Before Purchasing a Student Information System

  • Determine your most critical information needs
  • Create a list of existing data/information collection methods
  • Create a list of current data/information collection tools and processes
  • Determine how information collection can be merged within the new system to create efficiencies.
  • Determine how if and how well it merges with any LMS or Learning Magagement System you currently have
  • Review specifications to make sure that your systems are a match for the software
  • Plan upgrades if needed or warranted
  • Decide what level of parent interaction is needed or desired
  • Review Student Information System options and compare several different options
  • Examine their tech support structure to make sure that you can get the support you need when you need it
  • Examine the system’s features to ascertain if it is incorporating mobile access, social technologies and other new communications media.
  • Read reviews and discuss with other schools or districts. Experience is a great teacher in this regard
  • Review the Student Interoperability Framework standards to see where your product fits in in relation to these standards

To Do Checklist – Once You Have Chosen your Student Information System

  • Look at your critical information needs list above
  • Determine who will administer the program
  • Decide what new roles are needed by staff and how they will be performed
  • Install the software and upgrade systems as needed
  • Create a time line for implementation which implements your critical needs first
  • Remember to phase in the uses of the various features gradually. You don’t have to implement all features at once.
  • Communicate with students, teachers and parents regarding the new system uses and time lines
  • Give frequent ‘how to use’ information to all in the school community
  • Create videos which demonstrate common uses and share them widely
  • Evaluate the use of your system periodically and strategically plan how you will continue to use it

A well functioning Student Information System can enhance communications and but more importantly can support student achievement. There is much to consider but with some pre-planning and collaborative support, you are well on your way to effectively gathering and sharing student information on behalf of the students you serve.

Related Resources:

  1. School Interoperability Framework –Main Site Sets standards for interoperability.
  2. NCLB – Main Site



Communications Checklist for 21st Century School Leaders


Communication is the real work of leadership.” Nitin Nohria

As education experiences reform and change, good communication from school leaders is more important than ever. Television, film, popular media and others are frequently discussing educational trends. Add to that, the ever evolving changes in the world of technology.  It is more important than ever for school leaders to have clear communication strategies. A clear message from school leadership around educational programs supported by technology is necessary. A good communications strategy can make all the difference in providing quality programs that make a difference for the students we serve. These strategies explain the school’s vision for change and encourage collaboration and participation within the school community.  How can school administrators and leaders best communicate regarding  21st Century digital age change and technology? Below is a communications checklist for School Technology Leadership which I based on the Nets A(National Educational Technology Standards for Administrators). You may want other items for your list. Here is a checklist to think about.

Communications Checklist for School Technology Leadership

Visionary Leadership – Inspire and Lead for development of a shared vision for technology integration

_Do you often share the vision for 21st Century change and improvement at your school and explain technology’s role in supporting this?
_Have you explained how specific school  programs and initiatives relate to that vision?
_Have you invited members of your school community to help in creation and periodic evaluation of school technology strategic plans?
_Have you invited members of the school community to be on a technology team?
_Have you examined and publicly advocated for local and federal funding and policy support for technology programs?
_Do you ask for school community support and funding support?

Digital Age Culture – Create, Promote and Sustain a dynamic, digital age learning culture

_Do you highlight technology trends and their impact on the school, teachers and students?
_Do you point out emerging trendsand encourage discussion on how they may be incorporated in to the school program as needed?
_Are you piloting any new technologies and sharing the results?
_Do you promote best uses of technology at your school/organization?
_Do you regularly celebrate examples of enriched student learning supported by new technologies?
_Are students and teachers routinely encouraged to use collaborative and creative tools?

Excellence in Professional Practice – Lead by example. Promote an environment of professional learning and innovation.

_Are professional development goals and offerings well communicated?
_Do teachers know how to access best resources for technology enriched lesson planning and learning?
_Do teachers have easy access to these resources at all times?
_Are you distributing an electronic newsletter, blog or podcast on a regularly scheduled basis?
_Do you encourage collaboration using cloud based tools and resources such as Google Documents?
_Are you using social media to communicate?  Facebook, Twitter, Blogging, Google +?
_Are you using social media to learn and expand professional practice?
_Is this also taught to and expected of teachers? Do they know how to create a their own learning network?
_Do you take advantage of video chat such as skype or online webcasts when needed?
_Does the school website employ social media resources and widgets allowing website visitors to share content?

Systemic Improvement – Provide digital age leadership and management

_Do you share goals and give project updates on technology related projects? Tech support personnel can provide updates and necessary steps for special upgrades.
_If there are problems, are planned solutions explained so that staff feels supported?
_Are teachers and students given clear instructions for how to get tech support and technology applications support?
_Are infrastructure improvements and related goals communicated regularly? Are their ties to school academic programs communicated?
_Do other leaders communicate your support for digital age learning?

Digital Citizenship – Responsible Use and Information Literacy

_Is the Responsible/Acceptable Use Policy for Technology clearly communicated?
_Are the AUP and other policies for technology available on the school website and handbook?
_Are resources for online safety and digital citizenship shared frequently with parents and teachers? Are they part of the student curriculum?
_Are resources readily available and shared on the school website?
_Do students understand how to have a good online footprint?  Are resources shared often with them?

Communication works for those who work at it. John Powell

It s essential that schools involve teachers, students, parents and other stakeholders in the process of shaping a 21st Century school. In doing so, good communication is critical. Tell the stories. Share the successes. Allow people to share in and shape the vision. Good communication is essential as your school adapts new 21st Century learning strategies supported by technology. Mark as completed …A clear message from school leadership!

Related Resources

All Principals Should be Tech Savvy – Lyn Hilt

Emerging Technologies to Watch Policies to Empower Learning – AUPs

Come Again. Why Leaders Need to Repeat Themselves Mike St. Pierre

Publishers, Participants All – Will Richardson

Build a Personal Learning Network – Sue Waters

This post is cross posted at School CIO a publication from Tech and Learning