Category Archives: DigitalCitizenship

Time to retire the old mantras

“Education should drive the technology”
“You shouldn’t use technology just because it’s shiny and new”

Back in the old days we had the term Digital Natives. We now know this is no longer valid and it is generally an eschewed term. Back then though, it served a useful purpose. It gave us a common terminology in order to start discussing something that we had to discuss. It was, in its time, a really useful tool, a door opener, some common ground on which we could start our exploration of how technology and youth combined. Every new field must have its jargon, and this was the start of ours.

In the same way, the two terms I started out with were useful in their day. They are now just as much defunct and past their use by date as Digital Native. Although sadly I do hear them still bandied about by people who should know better.

Take the premise of the first statement. If we allow this to be true, following that tenet, we are sentencing (in the prisoner kind), funnelling, limiting, corralling, forcing, teachers to use technology only at level “S” on the SAMR scale. The best they could do is to “Substitute” their print based, chalk derived, activities for digital equivalents. Education and teaching practice is inhibiting the value and capacity of technology. Education driving technology use.

Take the premise of the second statement. Remove the blatantly emotive/denigrative “Shiny and New” and say it as, utilise the affordances that shiny and new offer, and shape education to that. It will present you with opportunities you didn’t have before, it opens up capabilities to do things differently and possibly better. New means exactly that, it wasn’t there before, it is an open door. This time we are sentencing (in the prisoner kind), funnelling, limiting, corralling, forcing, teachers to work at the “R” level. Redefining teaching and learning practices needs, requires, relies on, demands, shiny and new.

Utilising technology for technology’s sake, that is, making a use of shiny and new is a good thing, it is the way we are going to make change. It is something we should aspire to, not put down as a frivolous use of technology just because you can.

You know what, DO use it just because you can, DO use it just because it’s shiny and new, because if you have the skill to do it, you are the hope we have for breaking the stalemate of old world holding back new worlds that we haven’t begun to get enough value out of yet.

Just like Digital Native has had its day, so have these old statements. let’s consign both to the page in the history book that houses Digital Native, thank them for the excellent service they gave during their time, and come more up to date and start being an accelerator, not the brake.





It turns out that in our current time of exceedingly powerful search engines (and there are many of them) the skill of searching is sadly neglected. Or worse, assumed to be so endemic as to need no formal training.

It’s importance is undeniable, and it’s poor use responsible for wasted time, and efficiency.
Admittedly, poor searching does take us down a path of serendipity – an increasingly important proposition in the age of big data and advertising that latches on to the most minimal of clicked interest and curiosity. But, that’s the topic of another post.

What is stranger is that it was important over a decade ago.  It’s time to resurrect this important component of formal documents (assignments, projects, other school work).

A list of search terms used to construct an assignment or project.
Mapping your search used in constructing a critical response to prescribed work.
Typically presented (or blogged) as an appendix to the document.

Search engine

A critical searchography traces the following moments, experiences or events of student research;
questioning / defining search strategies
search and encounter (entering the discourse)
reformulating the topic (focussing)
discovering (forming conclusions)

To validate student responses in assignments
To view (visible thinking) student thought processes and approaches to assignment answering
To allow teachers to scaffold their student’s skill development, knowledge development and generation of responses
To construct and develop a basic digital skill
Reduce the likelihood of plagiarism
Formalise the experience or performance of finding information
Like a bibliography it serves as a companion to the research paper, authenticating and tracking references
Critical searchography allows you a chance to worry less about the identity of the author of found material and more about the skill with which the student appropriates it, and how it affects their path of enquiry
Flows naturally into a bibliography
Displays patterns, paths and events of encounter

Marsh, Bill. 2000 “Critical Searchography – Remodeling Research & Authorship.” 06 Apr. 2014

It’s not so far away

Our on line digital footprint is something that will be increasingly important – OK, it already is. Both potentially detrimental and positive, depending on how we manage it. It’s already there, if you know it or don’t. So you might just as well be in charge.

To give ourselves the most reasonable and supportive chance to keep it positive we should maintain our own domain name. This way we have the most control over the nature of our virtual persona. This isn’t an expensive exercise and the world is still on the up-ramp.

Given that the pool of domain names which match regular names is limited, they will increasingly become a keenly sought after commodity. Even now the more desirable names are changing hands for multi millions of dollars. The trend will soon enough filter down to personal named domains. The auction for “” is sure to be a keenly fought and expensive proposition.

How soon then will we be naming our children based on the domain names we own rather than to remember past relatives and family traditions?

How soon before inheriting the family domain names becomes something to fight over at the reading of the will?

Fantasy proposition? Maybe not so much as you might think?

Too narrow a focus

Because I’m trying hard to develop a course that truly is Digital Citizenship, I avidly follow all links that purport to be something even vaguely connected to the topic.
It seems that in the majority of the cases DC is equated to learning how to deal with cyberbullying.

This is annoying on at least two fronts.

First because DC is so much more than this. The bullying issue is a sub set, but itself only part of online behavior.
Second because the term cyberbullying should be banned. It is just bullying and would happen even had technology not made it more pervasive. The whole bully thing is a pastoral issue and is constantly lumped in with technology as if technology caused the problem. Admittedly technology exacerbates the issue because it puts bigger weapons in the hands of bullies. But the bully being a little s### is a behavioral thing not a technical thing.

I like that we are pioneers in this field, but occasionally the lack of commonly understood terms can be a bit of a pain.

Viruses = lots : us = not so many…

One of the advantages of working in a computing environment where someone else is managing the infrastructure is that computing becomes relatively clean and simple. This can lead you to thinking all the world is that way. It’s not so. While virus and malware is a little considered thing around the College, in your own home environment, these things are real and ever present threats to your computers. In fact, the threat is growing exponentially.

For example, Symantec’s security response group say “We’re identifying 20,000 or more signatures every day”.  (“Signatures”, are identifying footprints of a newly discovered malware.) This is an increasingly large pool of malware and infected web sites.

This means you must likewise keep up and be constant in your protection of your computer and online information.

Spending money on a good security suite is generally a good investment, but if you’re on a budget, or simply don’t like the idea of forking over yet more money on another piece of software, there are free security programs that do a good job detecting and isolating computer viruses and malware.

Companies such as Avast, AVG, McAfee, and Microsoft offer very good, free software protection against viruses, spyware, Trojan horses and the other kinds of malicious programs that are just waiting to infect your computer as soon as you connect to the internet.

Computer magazines regularly compare and evaluate these applications and while the top contender position changes hands occasionally, most of the free products perform well. They are each capable of detecting most malware and viruses and dealing with them appropriately. Providing, of course, you keep them up to date.

Short of spending considerable money on yet another application, such free protection is so much better than none at all. Remember that the paid for market leaders such as Symantec, Kaspersky McAfee and such, generally offer a larger suite of capabilities including spam filtering and parental internet control.  Occasionally these features make them well worth the cost.