Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Very Brief Proposal

Empowering the Potential of Digital Citizenship in Teachers through Narrative

My Foundational Question:
How do we live well together in a knowledge society?
Some would say we should to do this by participating as digital citizens. What is the role and responsibility of schools in this society? If education is a social function to make for a brighter future, do we as a democratic society have a clear request of teachers?

Problem: Building a theory
As governments and school boards move to embrace the demands of the knowledge society, teachers are being called upon to radically change their practice and to embrace a rather abstract notion of digital citizenship. I see a tension for teachers. A gap between what they are expected to provide and what they actually are able to impart. They find themselves on the front line of preparing students to be digitally connected in society as critical thinkers and ethical participants, yet they themselves do not appear to have much experience as digital citizens and have little opportunity to talk to each other about it. I believe that we will not get students to learn well by making it difficult for teachers to learn. How can we best support teachers take ownership of the learning required to make this change? I also believe it is possible that teachers could be the key agents for change if given the chance to be reflective practitioners? I wish to invite teachers into such a conversation.

The purpose of my proposed study is to explore in narrative with veteran teachers as they live the experience of becoming digital citizens after years of experience in the classroom. Following Dewey my goal is to look for connected experience, not to go chasing after certainty but to tell a reflexive story that others can imagine themselves in. Dialogue seems to me to be the right place to start but not the right place to stop. The hope of the study is to describe for others the possible tensions and triumphs that teachers face as they attempt to create learning environments that allow students to connect and participate ethically in a digital age.

Emerging Questions:
How does your schools digital citizenship strategy impact you and your teaching?
What is digital citizenship?
What do you feel you are a citizen of? Why does this matter?
How are you introducing it in your classroom? How do you want it to look like?
What supports will you use to expand your knowledge?
How are you able to share your understanding of it with other teachers?
How do you connect or interact in it?
How has your understanding of global citizenship changed in the last few years?
How have you come to understand this?
How important is it for your teaching for your students?
What skills do you think your students need in the future? How will you support them?
What do you think Canada’s role is in a knowledge society?

Please add to my list of questions!


  1. How can IT specialists (i.e. already digital citizens) who go into education support their peers?

  2. I'm liking this flow ... the pieces are connecting nicely ...

    In the first section ... I think a tie to the relationship of schools to a civil society / democracy ... then the pieces link more closely ...


  3. Exciting stuff Nancy!!

    I don't know what the questions would be, but some discussion on the imbalance of digital capability between student and teacher (what happens when the student knows more?)

    Also, are you planning on discussing the role of administration (principals)? How can they help? How do they hurt?

    You must be pretty excited, this topic just has Nancy written all over it.