This week’s blog post is brought to you by the Nine Elements of Digital Citizenship.
In examining my progress through my major project (which I explain here), I think the Nine Elements of Digital Citizenship help me frame how I see my apps.
All three of my apps relate to the third element: digital communication.
The first app in regards to my professional use of communication is Google Classroom. I don’t know how I could teach without it now. It’d reduced my paper consumption by around 75% and increased the number of assignments I receive from students. There’s no excuses for losing paper and they can turn their assignment in from wherever they are.
The problem I have is that Google Classroom is also on my phone. I receive notifications whenever I post an assignment or a student turns an assignment in late. This means my phone goes off at a fairly regular basis the day after an essay is due. I’ll go into more detail about digital interruptions later in my post.
The second app for today is Remind:an app I’ve used for years. I really have enjoyed watching it evolve from a little start-up to the ubiquitous educational company they are now. When I first used Remind, I had to get an invitation because it had just come out of beta testing. It was also a challenge to convince my students to get on board. They were a little leery of texting with their teachers. We had to do a few trial runs before they believed that no, it’s not my phone number. No, I don’t see their phone number. No, they can’t reply (remember, this was at the very beginning!).
But get on board they did.
And I’ve used it every semester since.
I’ve been slowly adopting their “new” features, like replying, over the years. I tried out the reply just this year and I have really enjoyed how it has increased interaction between my students and myself. I’ve sent out reminders to my students and they can respond quickly if they have a question:
Although, this kind of instant communication can mean that students view me as being available for them 24/7. It’s a continual learning process in drawing firm boundaries between teacher-me and non-teacher-me.
This bleeds into another of the nine categories: Digital Health and Wellness. Being able to remove myself from social media and electronic forms of communication increase my personal sense of wellness. I even made a New Year’s resolution to stop using Facebook and Instagram (though I don’ t have any social media proof of it. It’s funny how something like this seems untrue unless I can prove it through a social media trail. Kind of a paradox: I want to avoid using social media but need to prove through social media that I’ve done it.)
I think this is where I agree with the critique of Dr Paul Gordon Brown (and Krisanne’s awesome video) in that I want a separate identity from the one I have online, mostly because the online identity I cultivate is me as a teacher. Being a teacher isn’t my whole self. It’s a portion of myself and it’s the self I choose to share online. I can understand Dr Brown’s argument, but I don’t agree with it.
The one thread I’ve noticed in my apps is the ability to have constant access to them, but it comes at a cost. I think the cost could be the elimination of the barrier between personal and professional and I think that could harm a teacher’s well being in the long run. Teaching is such an emotional job in itself that stepping away is necessary otherwise a teacher risks burning out.
These are all aspects of digital communication I will be examining in my final project (which is coming up faster than I thought!)
Do you have any experience stepping away – or not being able to step away – from apps you use in the classroom?