Local & Global Interactions


Within our Grade Two classroom the focu2ag-post-boxs has been “communication systems enable local and global interactions”. As part of the student inquiries they investigated the postal system, how mail travels and by extension the mechanisms which work together to deliver messages across the world. A strong language focus included letter writing and the conventions surrounding sending messages in an addressed envelope to another person and place. Visual literacy plays a strong role in communicating the framework and function of systems, as well as the structure of a letter and layout of addressed envelopes.

In our unit, students decided that communication systems are developed to meet a need. By examining the people, parts, organization and purpose of systems; they inquired into how communication systems help us and why we need them. They French Post Boxcan explain how accessing and sharing information enables us to connect locally and globally through the use of maps and technology.

The students created a postal system for the primary school and used self-selected images of post boxes to help create their own. As we are an international school, we were able to find images of Switzerland and our home country’s national post boxes increasing global understanding. Strongest was making a local connection, as they chose to paint the class post boxes orange & black writing, which are the school colours.  

Visual imagery supports the language curriculum extremely well. Graphic organizers are key to supporting students in their writing development and allows for more successful communication opportunities. As they begin to blog this year, our Grade 2 students make strong connections to Digital Citizenship practices and are learning to cite their sources. Our class uses the visualizer in our room to explore stamps from around the world and were able to connect to their developing understanding of the globe. The wall map in our room is a place of annotation and engagement. Experiences are share as our Flat Stanley pictures are posted upon their return from adventures with relatives in other countries. Our class continually adds layers to the web of our personal connections through imagery on our wall map.

As I mentioned previously in my post Fight the Empowerment, imagery is incredibly important to me when communicating my message. Often they are the source of my inspiration to get writing DODH and help me to develop my author’s voice. Imagery tells the untold story and Postes Canada - Canada Post Mailboxfuels my creativity. I am especially pleased that the new theme showcases my feature images so nicely; although my categories absurdly cover them. I have yet to figure out how to remedy that, so if anyone knows please pass it along @GroverAndrew. While using the Creative Commons to search for digital images I found that tips from Kim Cofino’s video were very helpful. Do not underestimate the power of a visual explanation, accessible by users at their own pace and specific learning needs. I appreciated how I could split my screen and follow along while selecting an image. Personalized tutoring.

One of educational technology’s greatest strengths is the ability to connect and collaborate in meaningful ways. Just as my hero Alvin Toffler predicted, workflows have changed as computers enhance the ability to tailor the access to information.

The Responsible Use of Technology (RUA)

E&A Publishing House bring you the 3 Keys to the Responsible Use of Technology!

Responsible Use Agreement perfectly suited to Primary & Middle School Students

E&A’s Responsible Use Agreement is perfectly suited to Primary & Middle School Students


Infographic for a Responsible Use Agreement (RUA)

Co-Authors: Eric Richards from the excellent blog E=ed2 & Andrew Grover of Digging Out of a Digital Hole

Target audience: Grade 5 Students

Wider use: Upper Primary & Middle School Students

CoETaIL Course 2 Final Project


Improvements in version 4.2: 

Initially, a more complex RUA infographic which contained 10 separate themes without a unifying thread. Now three themes, paralleled with educational origami’s Acceptable Use Agreement (AUA). Students will be better able to remember and apply these codes of conduct. Covers all major areas and aspects of Digital Citizenship for ages 7-16. KISS rule leads to wider acceptance, understanding and adoption of the principles within Staff and Students. Comprehensive and shared understandings are scaffolded for success no matter where on the continuum. Licenced by Creative Commons.


Feedback from users:

“strikes a balance between the needs at opposite ends of the spectrum.”  Teacher

“implementation plan ensures major strands build upon each other”. PYP Coordinator

“Students & Staff start the year on a solid digital footing.” Director of e-Learning

“a simple glance reinforces the central ideas of the RUA”. Grade 5 Student


Implementation Plan included!

Lesson plans adhere to 3 overarching concepts:

  1. Look after Yourself – You are important.
  2. Look After Others – Show you care.
  3. Look After Property – Caring for your own & other’s property requires thought & effort.

Download your copy of 3 Keys to the Responsible Use of Technology!



I was raised in a Village

Thornhill Settlement Village

Thornhill Settlement Village, my home for 13 years; formed the cornerstones from which I developed my sense of community. Image by Thornhill Historic

The African proverb “it takes a village to raise a child”, best sums up the approach needed when promoting digital citizenship. As a young child, the Thornhill Village Festival created indelible images in my psyche, fostering a sense of local community. It showed me, before I would come to understand it with life experience, the depth and breadth of interactions that are possible within your own neighborhood. As a child, seeing the community come together in celebration left cornerstones in my mind which would grow to shape my values. The parade was always a highlight, the charming historic dress of the early settlers always prevalent; allowing one to trace the timeline of the learner or of the Village’s history. So many societies with varied influences coming together to recognize their reliance on and respect for each other. The residents share important traditions, mourn their losses and celebrate their successes. So many support networks are established, starting with the family and extending through school to the community.

It is everyone’s responsibility to pass on digital citizenship skills to ensure interactions between individuals and those with organizations, all have a similar code of conduct. So much activity takes place outside the classroom environment; whether it be with parents, friends or individually accessing a variety of content. In our connected world, colleagues, sport coaches, political and community service organizations, as well as business interests, all have a stake in online safety.  All banks have security software protecting the accounts and frequently contact their members to alert them to phishing scams and provide them with data protection updates. Businesses create Apps which are opportunities to purchase goods and services directly. But they must protect their customers, in order to keep them. Social media gives limitless potential for for collaboration but can be a Pandora’s Box and must be treated with care.

Creating space for discussion with students is essential to having a strong digital citizenship . Fifth graders are avid technology users and encounter all the tricks of the trade while online. One of the biggest elements which can benefit student buy in, is the collaborative creation of classroom Essential Agreements. By opening the discussions to the students it allows them to highlight challenges they face and suggest guidelines to avoid them. Conversations often center around student led problem solving or educating each other about best practice. Adapting to new responsibilities for digital citizenship,often coincides with the introduction of new technology learning opportunities and the exploration of additional digital platforms. Despite potentially not the most creative portion of the curriculum, it can be a very exciting and engaging time for all involved. By having students share personal stories, it gives ownership and gravitas to the actions when the individual is online. With the fall of traditional privacy boundaries and of evanescent personal space; users need to fully understand their ability to restrict their digital footprint as needed. Exposing students to these new technologies while teaching them how to use them properly, allows for honest talk about needed protective measures.

Students recognize their best interests are at the heart of the matter, but most importantly it solidifies their ability to navigate their digital world themselves. In a way, digital citizenship can be viewed as a new driver’s education course, leading to a licence which a new driver acquires at the age of 16. The ability to drive? To control their own movement and exercise freedom? Which kid didn’t want their licence as soon as they could get it? The motivation of the recipient to master these skills should not be underestimated or neglected. The trick is to tap into that vein of excitement, a prospect made easier with the help of your Village.

Border crossing

Universal Borderless Patrol

Border crossing

Border crossing: South Tyrol – Switzerland. 2295m above sea level by Gerhard Haindl

Wouldn’t that be an interesting occupation? Flipping the concept of independent nations on its head; the Universal Borderless Patrol would have the fortuity to interact with all nations, races and peoples that inhabit our planet. The role would extend beyond our planet, through our Solar System and out into the expanse of the Universe. The idea matches the scope of our access to content and information; the edges of our technological universe. The internet is oblivious to the limitations of physical borders. Our globe is literally banded together, regardless of the location or distance. Communities are now closer than ever, with the invaluable ability to make connections with like-minded people or access shared content from your pocket instantly. Physical space has been eliminated by the technological revolution and barriers between individuals, information and media no longer exist. In rare, but high-profile cases, access to information is restricted or denied; however, I have not yet had the opportunity to visit, teach or live in these countries. Most countries in Europe and North America, where I have lived; all subscribe to their own, as well as international copyright law. Regulations, penalties and acceptable use guidelines may slightly differ, but the core principles are the same. Youth is the key. Educate the youth. They will be in positions of power one day.  


Digital Citizenship should help to eliminate the need to keep content restricted by helping the user cite their sources properly. Image by Unci Narynin

As educators, our obligation is to promote the ideals and guidelines of digital citizenship; protecting the rights of creators while balancing the needs of users. Teaching these responsibilities is easy, as students are keen and there are many excellent digital citizenship programs available.  We use both Common Sense Media and the ISTE Standards at our school. We also have a Scope and Sequence of Skills created in conjunction with the International Baccalaureate, which forms the backbone of our technological education as a school. We have a strong digital citizenship policy, which is communicated through school wide planning and sequential learning objectives, activities and resources targeting different grade levels.  The programme culminates in our Computer Code of Conduct, which is included in the package of information sent to all Parents and Students at the beginning of the year. Both parties sign the agreement and the notarized copy goes into the Student’s Portfolio. The Computer Code of Conduct is further posted in classrooms and included in the Student’s agendas.

No Borders

The internet is bounded by no geographical barriers as evidenced in the photo “No Borders” by Michael Q Todd

The School Librarian is a key cog, discussing the theory behind digital citizenship and reinforcing appropriate searching, referencing and citation skills. From Grade 5 onwards, our students are expected to have accurate bibliographies in all assignments.  Our Primary Technology Integrationist works closely with each grade level at the beginning of the year to help students understand the purpose and importance Digital Citizenship. She works in collaboration with the Students to create essential agreements within the classroom.  Our Director of eLearning leads in-depth sessions for all members of our community, providing leadership needed to address a variety of aspects of the online world. The Communications Department publishes our technology philosophy on the website and in the school promotional publications. It is a tapestry, interwoven with many people sharing a consistent message to create the full picture.

The front line in establishing the respect for copyright, is always the educational leadership that a class teacher demonstrates everyday. Modeling good practice and stressing the importance of proper use is essential at all levels. Instilling good habits and nurturing development year-on-year builds confidence, competence and understanding within the user. We must always be cognizant that we are building future generations who need to be well versed in the international expectations of copyright, communications and media.

Privacy, Piracy & the Private Eye

A connected world requires us to travel in different digital dimensions.

A connected world requires us to travel in different digital dimensions.

There is a strange coincidence I noticed as I inserted the image above into my blog post entry about privacy. Two of the four images which make up the Portals to Other Dimensions are the same blue as the header in Digging Out of a Digital Hole. At first I found it surprising, when I initially thought of using the photograph, I didn’t realize there was a single blue, let alone two. The significance struck me shortly after as they represent perfectly; two avatars in my digital domain. I always imagined these archways led to somewhere fabulous; their Sci-Fi, spacey feel, allude to time traveling and parallel lives in alternate Universes.

The dark blue represents my educational journey. A deep colour now coming to the fore in sharing my Certificate of Educational Technology and Information Literacy (CoETaIL). Its resonance blankets professional development, my pedagogy and who I strive to be as an educator. It is the skill and love of learning exemplified.  

The lighter blue is my teacher-self.  The digital footprint of myself as an in-class practitioner.  The header shows the lightest blue closest to the vacuum, symbolizing the process of learning and my growing imprint inside the digital world. Look no further than the this site to see the exponential increase in content contributed to my educational environment. Radical. My blog, Twitter, Instagram, Google Sites, GAFE environment and soon-to-be certification added to the toolbox. Next academic year, it will be iPads in Grade 2. The digital black hole is always hungry.

The serene green represents peaceful interactions with information and media during recreational time on the internet. Sharing pictures, listening to music, communicating with friends, or other areas which make up our personal lives. The joy of technology lives here.

The red represents anger, or more accurately, danger in the digital domain. It’s pink hues serve as a warning, a caution to have a mind, when embarking on adventures in technology.  The hazard light demonstrates the need for prudence, shows the relevance of the content of Course 2 and the question of whether privacy even exists anymore.


Every minute, every day these are the interactions which take place on the internet.

Of course it doesn’t, privacy is dead.  And it is not coming back anytime soon. Digital profiles begin before birth and are well-established by the later stages of childhood. Primary school students widely participate in a connected world and have never known any different. The net never forgets. Most users understand that concept, certainly most of those born into the computer age have a decent understanding. Infrequent users and those which generally count as the older slice of the population are generally the most at-risk. True, users at the beginning of the curve, such as young teens and middle school students, have sharp learning curves; but these are commonly counterbalanced by a comprehensive digital citizenship program.

There really are too many platforms to be private anymore. We are clearly digitally entrenched and usage is no longer measured daily but hourly. Wearable technology is the wave currently breaking over the market, with the true prize of embedded technology on the near horizon. A device is all anyone needs to  engage with the connected world.  Apps are glorified hyperlinks which access library books, newspapers, video chats, movie tickets, concerts, flights and thousands of programs to help manage your life. To dominate your life. Knowledge at your fingertips is already here, what’s next? Changes that were almost incomprehensible not too long ago; those that were mocked as wild science fiction, are already possible though often not yet commercially available.


The deductive reasoning skills of Sherlock Holmes are no longer needed to follow the trails of digital breadcrumbs.

It will be merely a matter of time, perhaps a decade, until humans embed technology inside their bodies. Designed to allow people to access bank accounts, health information, birth certificates, passports and nationality. The “Homo sapiens barcode” allows seamless passage through the future world. Our unique data point will allow us to drive cars, purchase goods and services or unlock doors. Or, one day when we cannot get the skeleton key in the lock, it won’t. The same technology used to eliminate barriers, can be used in reverse to create borders and discriminate. Governments, branches of security, banks and businesses all have our data. Theft of our personal information and cyber crime will be the single biggest threat to the world, second only to climate change. There are 77 apps on my phone. I just checked. Trails of breadcrumbs strewn across the technoverse which creates a far more detailed picture of ourselves than we can imagine.


Often the purpose of our digital footprint is to be found, not concealed.

GPS already tracks our exact location while our spending habits are predicted to the point where we now receive personal advertisements based on our browsing history.  Privacy has passed. No longer valid is the novelist Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez’s quote “All human beings have three lives: public, private, and secret.”

So what to do the face of such overwhelming evidence that maintaining privacy is impossible?  Embrace it, welcome it, manipulate it. Being aware of how to protect yourself now and looking to constantly adapt with the technology.  The rate of  progress and change is staggering. Look at the innovations in the last 10 years and recognize that the next 10 will also entail radical developments, as yet unforeseen or predicted. I am confident that people are continually developing the ability to change along with it. As computer literacy sky rockets across the world and access is considered a human right; users, providers and creators are making themselves more and more aware of how to limit their vulnerability. Minds which look to exploit privacy are continually offset with even greater numbers in the counter balance. Privacy may be passe, but security of your digital profile is certainly not.

Fossilized in the Digital Domain

Our actions online are as indelible as fossilized footprints of dinosaurs which once roamed the Earth. Cairichnium leonardii dinosaur track (Dakota Sandstone; Lower Cretaceous; eastern side of Dinosaur Ridge,  west of Denver, north-central Colorado, USA) James St. John via Compfight cc

Cairichnium leonardii dinosaur track (Dakota Sandstone; Lower Cretaceous; eastern side of Dinosaur Ridge, west of Denver, north-central Colorado, USA)
James St. John via Compfight cc

Footprints can be a tricky thing. Most of the world that we live it can prove difficult for us to leave a mark behind. I work in a classroom which has polished wooden floors and a school with tiled hallways. I walk to and from my campus on manicured pathways and at the end of my workday I return to live in a house which is not a mud hut. Shoes create a safety barrier between the ground and the interloper. Often, only my own recreational time or playtime with my children are opportunities arise to go barefoot.This type of interaction is completely different, stone floors are still immune from our marks, but forest floors, rocky beaches and backyard grass that tickles between the toes, gives a deeper connection between two entities. Splashing in muddy puddles and burying your feet in the sand, give more permanence to our movements. We can backtrack through time and follow our movements around before the tide washes away our existence.

Actions online can have a longer lasting impact than the Dinosaur footprints at Dinosaur Ridge, Colorado.

Actions online can have a longer lasting impact than the Dinosaur footprints at Dinosaur Ridge, Colorado.

Photo Credit: rynoceras via Compfight cc

Digitally it is an entirely different story. All of our movements are recorded for posterity, intentionally or not. By now, most of us understand the basics of good digital citizenship and are able to keep in consideration their digital footprint. It is only when we can start to consider that almost all of our life is digitized that your footprint begins to have a gravitas of its own. Contexts, contacts, moods and emotions take us through the realities of everyday life. The teacher’s professional profile tends to be kept as just that. As an educator, I know my audience and generally interact in a pretty safe environment, as educational discussions and research rarely lead to trouble. Of course, the appropriate use of resources and material have their own pitfalls and eliminating plagiarism is always a lesson learning outcome. It is once we start to make Imprints across multiple platforms of our true self, our so-called private or personal self is when the balance becomes trickier. Nothing is really private anymore.

Stages of your life and the spheres of your experience intersect an increasingly complex ways. New media and technology platforms which are created to diversify our online presence and perform specific tasks have their own nuances. The use of social media immediately springs to mind and divisions can become blurred when using programs such as Instagram and Twitter. Communications between friends or for personal reasons contain correspondence in known contexts, It is the collapsed contexts which often create the tension. Danah Boyd, author of It’s Complicated a book about the online lives of students; postulates that a context collapse occurs when “people are forced to grapple simultaneously with otherwise unrelated social context that are rooted in different norms and seemingly demand different social responses” (p. 31). “Navigating collapsed contexts while considering multiple potential audiences can require significant social monitoring and social negotiation for teens compelling a more nuanced approach to self-presentation online.” In other words, inside jokes, strange interests or bad behaviour can quickly spread across your many personas and give insight, positive or negative to groups of people not necessarily considered for in the communication.

Digital citizenship courses can aid understanding these days almost all students participate some form of online protection course and fill in acceptable use policy agreement. The current generation has grown up in this world and generally have a far greater understanding than those of an older vintage. It is becoming more widely accepted that digital citizenship is not just for students but also for the entire School community inclusive of parents and School personnel. An effective program will expose the participants to the realities and benefits of our connectedness. Modeling a positive digital footprint is key while having a continued and open discussion while evolving practices present new challenges. Today’s learners are well aware that they are creating their own actuality of an altered Id in cyberspace.

Monterosa, Vanessa. “Review: Chapter 1 – “It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens” by danah boyd.” hastac. 15 June 2014. Web. 14 Apr. 2016. https://www.hastac.org/blogs/edtechftw/2014/06/15/review-chapter-1-its-complicated-social-lives-networked-teens-danah-boyd.

Exploring Fields of Knowledge


Connections can be examined through different farming practices.


The learning curve is starting to get steeper.

As my course continues to peel the layers off the technological onion, I continue to find areas in which I am very comfortable; yet others reveal areas which proves I am out of my depth. To me, it seems to be similar to an aerial view of the English countryside; a window seat-view which I was lucky enough to have at the beginning of my journey in technology. A myriad of multi-coloured fields of knowledge; fertile and ripe for harvesting, are separated with hedges, rivers and stone walls. Often there are gates or pathways which connect this knowledge to each other, similar to the Rights of Way in England & Wales. I just need to find them.

The challenge for me, will be to conect my current expertise with new concepts and growing understanding. In “Living & Learning with New Media” the authors contend that “messing around represents the beginning of a more intense, media-centric form of engagement. When messing around, young people begin to take an interest in and focus on the workings and content of the technology and media themselves, tinkering, exploring, and extending their understanding.” p.20 As a first time blogger, yet experienced digital practitioner, encountering my own new media for the first time; I find a deep connection to this assertation. I authored an extensive array of Google Sites supporting both for my Grade Five classroom and as a Sports Leader at my school. I feel as though I should be better at this blogging racket. Of course I expected the actual writing of content to be challenging, but what I did not anticipate was how different WordPress is to creating a Google Site.  Google Sites and WordPress allow users to post content relatively easily to the web, the establishment of a basic web page can be quite easy. It is only once the architect cares about the content, style and potential impact of information that the two  platforms become trickier. Actually trying to propagate your vision digitally, has proven to be quite difficult indeed.

Within my own learning journey is a developing understanding of what is possible in on a blog. I have found parallels between the bottom and top of Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy of Higher Order Thinking. On one hand, right at the top of the pyramid, is creating. In order to bring my vision to life, I am working through the top tiers of the edifice, designing and constructing; cycling through the analysis and evaluation stages while applying them to Digging Out of a Digital Hole.  However, on the flip side, I bounce between the lowest rungs of the ladder as I try desperately to remember what I did last time to make an idea work, or understand the complexities associated with new platform possibilities.

All the while, a clear vision of what could be, drives me forward. An additional other quote from “Living & Learning with New Media”  applies to me in these circumstances. “…players who enjoyed experimenting with the authoring tools embedded in games. Games such as Pokémon or Neopets are designed specifically to allow user authoring and customization of the player experience in the form of personal collections of customized pets. This kind of customization activity is an entry point into messing around with game content and parameters”. p24-25. I do this every time I open my blog. I am far more concerned with the structure so far than the content. I am trying to figure out what these menus mean or what these options, tick boxes and fields contain. Do they help me? Are they relevant?  The adaptations sure do not write blog posts for me. I’m behind, but fascinated.

At school, while constructing my own curriculum websites, it was easy to connect with colleagues on a personal level who were also learning.  As the article so aptly describes, “messing around with media is embedded in social contexts where friends and a broader peer group share a media-related interest and social focus.” p26 At school, I had a group of peers at the same level, experiencing the same pedagogical awakenings. Online, by myself, I have yet to establish connections with these pillars of support. I know they exist within CoETaIL; apparently at my fingertips. As I am still coming to terms with my educational blog and commenting responsibilities however; I have not yet found the correct doors to knock on, or rooms to wander into, in order to connect with the experience of my Cohort. A week from now, a month from now, or a Course 2 from now; those Rights-of-Way will no doubt be established. As the connections strengthen, I will transfer from my small but fertile English farmer’s fields; to the vast expanse of the Canadian Prairies, where creativity roams free like the bison do.