Guest Post from Michelle Green, eLearning Development Specialist for the Office of eLearning at the Indiana Department of Education
As districts across Indiana prepare to open for the new school year, the Indiana Department of Education, Office of eLearning is promoting a focus on digital citizenship. In fact, hundreds of educators took part in a summer school of sorts, attending digital citizenship sessions at Summer of eLearning Conferences held at 25 different locations over June and July. Even as some districts resume classes, the summer eLearning Book Club is discussing Susan Bearden’s recent publication, Digital Citizenship: A Community-Based Approach. These activities are just the beginning of what will be a year long effort to engage educators in learning about digital citizenship so that they can demonstrate leadership as digital citizens and be empowered to leverage the digital resources at their disposal.
The spotlight of the Office of eLearning’s efforts is the inaugural Indiana Digital Citizenship Week, September 12-16, 2016. Since 2013, we have used our network to promote the national Digital Citizenship Week celebration. Once we learned that many school districts were not able to participate in the national awareness activities due to fall break conflicts, we began investigating the feasibility of launching a statewide event earlier in the school year. Given the back to school focus, we put together a thematic set of Common Sense Education lessons that can be taught at various grade level bands and cover the essentials required by the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA). We also developed a toolbox with resources to Plan, Connect, and Promote to assist schools that wanted ready-made materials. Additionally, the week’s activities are designed so that a participating school is well on its way to being eligible for Common Sense Digital Citizenship Certification.
The Office of eLearning promotes Common Sense Digital Citizenship Certification as a means of communicating to a school’s community that the district has engaged not only in providing instruction using a comprehensive, research-based curriculum, but that stakeholders have been engaged at every level from administration to families. The Indiana Connected Educators, the state ISTE affiliate, has partnered with us and Common Sense Education to support schools in developing an implementation plan for becoming Digital Citizenship Certified. A cohort of eLearning coach leaders are participating in the 6- week course to become lead learners and subsequently facilitate a course to train teachers in their buildings.
Serving as a year-round hub for digital citizenship conversation and events, the Office of eLearning launched the newest Online Community of Practice. The Indiana Digital Citizenship Community is designed for all educators committed to learning and sharing digital citizenship lessons. This is an open place to discover new research, discuss best practice, and address challenges. “Building a culture of positive digital citizenship in your school is not just a goal, it is a journey,” writes Susan Bearden, author of Digital Citizenship: A Community-Based Approach. The Office of eLearning response to this assertion is that you are not alone on the journey. We provide a path to guide educators and schools as they implement a comprehensive digital citizenship education program for their faculty and students. Visit our webpage on Digital Citizenship.
Michelle Green serves Indiana educators as the eLearning Development Specialist for the Office of eLearning at the Indiana Department of Education. She began her career as an English teacher and gained experience in face-to-face, blended and online learning solutions in K-12. It was a sense of inquiry that led Michelle to explore learning technology, which resulted in her transitioning out of the classroom and into a support role-first as a building 1:1 coach, then at the district level, and now for the state. Michelle is part of the INeLearn team, a brand she manages on social media that represents their work across the state to improve student outcomes through the intentional use of technology. Since joining the team, she has instituted the state edchat on Twitter, established the Hoosier Student Digital Leaders program, and helped facilitate the Connected Coach Collaborative.