My development as a digital citizen has grown very quickly over the past 12 months and a great deal of that is due to taking part in this PLN course (twice!). Originally I felt quite dubious about tools such as Facebook and Twitter, but with experience in both these applications, I understand that there are very powerful and positive uses for them. Like any tool, it is knowing how to apply them appropriately, in order to achieve the best outcomes. This has had a large impact, both on the way I learn and has also complimented the changes in professional practices now being seen in most libraries.
The idea of introducing the concept of citizenship provided a good opportunity to consolidate ideas of operating on a digital level. Citizenship shouldn’t be any different in digital form – in any type of community setting people work best together when they are polite, respectful, helpful and mindful of each other. Aspects of our personae are usually influenced by the group who we are interacting with. I like to keep my online personality strictly professional – that is, it is important to be your true self but at the same time, like being at work, you do not need to reveal all personal details. My 15 year old son operates his facebook account at a very private level, but I do notice that he controls his image to a certain extent by the choice of photos that he chooses to post.
Operating online can obviously make some feel anonymous and so, operate in a negative way because they are not accountable. Particularly for younger students, this can lead to making unwise choices as to how they may behave online and I strongly believe that full understanding only comes with experience and maturity. For this reason, I do believe that schools are in an ideal position to help guide students in their understanding of how to best operate in a digital environment. I believe that a boundary should applied initially, while students become more experienced and are in a better position to understand the consequences of their online choices.
In terms of being an effective learner, the characteristics that came to my mind were, to be curious, reflective, organised, motivated and collaborative. These attributes have certainly been important in undertaking this current course. One needs to be curious in order to be able discover anything new – including new forms of technology, and students seem to be naturals at this!It is also important to be reflective, (perhaps a trait that we oldies are better at), so that a deeper understanding is reached. In any form, learning can be best achieved through being organised, and technology now offers multiple tools for this to be managed. Motivation is a powerful tool for for learning, and the new choices of technological applications seem to provide many students greater motivation for getting their tasks done. Collaboration is an important characteristic for many learning tasks, as it requires good communication, and one must be able to be receptive to the ideas of others. I believe that technological tools are facilitating this by allowing more numerous ways to share information within a group. Operating within the Edmodo “classroom”, for this course, is a very good example – I haven’t actually met most of the people on this course, but I feel like we have all been connected and have communicated very well with each other.
We are at the very beginning of a very exciting new way of learning – this online course is, again, a perfect example and the online options have been embraced by Teritiary Institutions. In the secondary school situation, the many tools available to students to use, the many ways to access information, the many ways to submit assignments, continues to grow. However, as with any new innovation, the success of the method depends on how appropriate the tool is to the application, and in these early days, we sometimes see new tools being used for the sake of them being new, rather that adding any value to the exercise. It is, however, a great time to be involved in the school/library profession – I am so glad to be part of this evolution, and am just sorry that I probably will only be part of the workforce for the next ten years – what am I going to miss out on?