BYOD – an Acronym with Potential

Education is rife with acronyms.  While BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) is yet another one, it is one that is influencing teaching and learning in our schools.  Alberta Education defines BYOD as “Bring your own device (BYOD) refers to technology models where students bring a personally owned device to school for the purpose of learning.” (2012).  I was proud to see Canadian Rockies Public Schools as a contributor to Alberta Education’s document, Bring Your own Device:  A Guide for Schools (2012).  Recognizing the potential of BYOD’s for teaching and learning is an integral step to bridging learning between home and school.

The role of teachers is shifting and BYOD continues to push it along. “Along with the interesting uses for both the iPod Touch and iPad devices that both teachers and students found, we noticed a significant shift in the roles and responsibilities for teachers, IT support people, and school based administration.” (Crichton, Pegler, & White, p. 27).  Working isolation is no longer feasible. For BYOD to function smoothly, teachers are collaborating with IT staff and administration, addressing issues of infrastructure, access and educational uses of personal devices.

The importance of digital citizenship is magnified as the shift to BYOD increases (Alberta Education, 2012).  As the trend seems to be moving into the younger grades, the need to develop a culture of digital citizenship begins in Kindergarten. “That means that the school culture must embrace digital citizenship, which Alberta school authorities have identified as critical to the success of the use of technology in schools.” (Alberta Education, 2012, p. 24).  Although BYOD is a dreaded acronym, its potential is certainly an exciting one.


Alberta Education (2012). Bring your own device: a guide for schools. Retrieved from:

Crichton, S., Pegler, K., & White, D. (2012). Personal devices in public settings: lessons learned from an ipod touch / ipad project. Electronic Journal Of E-Learning,10(1), 23-31.  Retrieved from:


Did you say Get Out?

Lake Louise

Personal Photo

The Get Out Banff Community Challenge was launched this afternoon at Elizabeth Rummel School.  This initiative promotes the connection to nature and time spent outside.  Two students performed an engaging skit and shared some compelling facts.  They reported children spend so much time indoors; they are in danger of attention disorders, obesity, and depression.  By spending more time outside, children do better at school, and they are happier and healthier.  One of my favourite lines was, “Didn’t you know I’m in danger of getting Nature Deficit Disorder?”

Technology is our new toy.  We are so enamoured with our devices, we haven’t found the balance yet.    “The Kaiser Family Foundation conducted a nationally representative study of recreational media use among children and found on an average school day, children aged 8 to 10 years spent 3 hours and 41 minutes watching television, 46 minutes using the computer, and approximately 1 hour playing video games during the2008/2009 school year.” (cited in Racine, et. al., 2011, p. 749).  Astonishing statics!  If that’s not enough, Trends E-Magazine (June, 2011, p. 29) cites those who have an ‘addiction’ to media experience real feelings of cravings, anxiety and depression.

Do you enjoy the outdoor benefits your community has to offer?  I experience feelings of peace, well-being and gratitude (not to mention sore muscles) on my ventures on the trails of Canmore.  The exact opposite is true for media use.  “Internet users (using mainly for communication) experienced a decline in social circles, increases in depression and increases in loneliness.” (cited in Ross, Raiger, Kirschner, Christl, & Laye, 2012).  Children of the Bow Valley are just as likely to engage in recreational media use as children from around the world.  Let’s model for our children how to balance their technology use, to value time spent outdoors, and to Get Out!


Racine, E. F., DeBate, R. D., Gabriel, K. P., & High, R. R.  (2011).  The Relationship between Media Use and Psychological and Physical Assets among Third- to Fifth-Grade Girls. Journal Of School Health, 81(12), 749-755.  Retrieved from:

Ross, T., Raiger, L., Kirschner, Christl , Laye, A. (Jan. 16, 2012) Children’s Dependence on Technology, Social Problems. Retrieved from:

The Challenge of “Media-Addicted” Consumers, Employees, and Citizens. (2011). Trends Magazine, (98), 27-30. Retrieved from:

Relationships through a Phone

My 65 year old mother upgraded her phone to a smartphone several months ago.  Her primary impetus was to foster her relationship with her teenage granddaughter.  She wanted to be able to communicate with her via texting.   According to Brown (2011) technology can strengthen ties to family and close friends.   Has the ability to text strengthened her relationship with her granddaughter?  They do text regularly, and texting has become their most frequent form of communication.  My mother would agree.  She feels a greater connection and says texting allows them to easily keep in touch.

So how does all this texting and time spent on Facebook affect our children’s relationships to those beyond family and close friends?  “Students who can communicate via informal and formal communication channels are becoming increasingly valuable in organizations.” (Sacks & Graves, 2012, p. 81).  My daughter secures an amazing number of babysitting jobs via texting.  Perhaps this is a first step to blending her communication skills for future employability.  It is interesting to note that contrary to Brown’s findings, Pollet (2011) found “Thus neither the use of IM and SNS nor the intensity of their use was associated with a greater number of offline relationships or the emotional closeness of these relationships.”  (p.256).

Social Media has found a place in our lives, but it is not in lieu of face-to-face conversations.  As Turkle (2011) says in her TED talk, all the ‘bits’ do not equal a conversation.  Conversations with our children and our students continue to be integral to understanding and learning about each other.  The texting my family participates in is not the equivalent to meaningful conversations and may not increase the emotional closeness, but it does prompt a strong desire to connect in real-time.  Try texting “Your granddaughter has a boyfriend” to Grandma and see what happens!


Brown, A. (2011). Relationships, community, and identity in the new virtual society. The Futurist, 45(2), 29-34. Retrieved from:

Pollet, T. V., Roberts, S. B., & Dunbar, R. M. (2011). Use of Social Network Sites and Instant Messaging Does Not Lead to Increased Offline Social Network Size, or to Emotionally Closer Relationships with Offline Network Members. Cyberpsychology, Behavior & Social Networking, 14(4), 253-258. Retrieved from:

Sacks, M., & Graves, N. (2012). How Many “Friends” Do You Need? Teaching Students How to Network Using Social Media. Business Communication Quarterly, 75(1), 80-88.  Retrieved from:

Turkle,S.(2011). Sherry Turkle: Connected, but alone? | Video on  TED:Ideas worth spreading. Retrieved from:

Are You Well-Googled?


Denver, D. (Photographer). (2011) Don Sees the World. [Digital Image]. Retrieved from:

Ever googled yourself?  I did and what an eye-opener!  I know there are a few other Debbie McKibbin’s out there, including my cousin’s wife.  I was expecting (and perhaps secretly hoping) that another Debbie McKibbin would come up and my digital footprint would be buried.   In fact, my Twitter account was the first hit, and my blog was seventh…both of which are evidence of my learning.  Leaving a digital footprint—the digital traces each one of us leaves behind as we conduct our lives (Weaver & Gahegan, 2007, p. 324) — has the potential to be an online collection of learning.

Richardson (2008) is a proponent of students learning to collaborate, communicate, and work collectively online, identifying their passions and being findable by those who share their passion for learning.  He writes that many young students are creating, publishing and learning online outside of school, without adult guidance.   “In our technologically driven world, teachers and parents are generally behind youth in their knowledge of technology.” (Popovic-Citic,, 2011, cited in Cassidy, 2012).

Teachers and students need to be co-learners because we are not staying one step ahead.  “Teaching kids to manage their Digital Footprint really starts with the adults. Teachers can’t teach this effectively if they, themselves have not managed their own digital footprint.”  (Neilson, 2010) Deepening our own understanding is essential in providing the guidance for students to use online spaces in an informed, educated manner and taking ownership of their personal digital footprint.


Cassidy, W., Brown, K. N., & Jackson, M. (2012). ‘Under the radar’: Educators and cyberbullying in schools. School Psychology International, 33(5), 520–532.  

Nielsen, Lisa. (2010, February 18).  Teaching Kids to Manage their Digital Footprint.  The Innovative Educator.  Retrieved from:

Richardson, W. (2008). Footprints in the digital age. Educational Leadership66(3), 16-19.  Retrieved from:

Weaver, S. D., & Gahegan, M. (2007). Constructing, visualizing and analyzing a digital footprint. Geographical Review97(3), 324-350.  Retrieved from:

The Internet Fish Bowl


Gupta, P. (Photographer). (2009) Little Fish Big Pond. [Digital Image] Retrieved from:

In reading about Privacy and Professionalism this week, I couldn’t help but think of the internet as a fish bowl.  Virtually (no pun intended) every action taken using social media is potentially public.  “Teachers of young children work hard to be professional and to be viewed by others as professionals.  These efforts to maintain professionalism must include e-professionalism.” (Harte, 2011, p. 3)  Photos and text can be potentially viewed, accessed and judged by others.   We give up the locus of control when posting online, sending emails or tweets.  It is a fallacy to believe we have absolute control of our digital footprint.  The internet is anything but private.

The benefits of social networking must be balanced with its disadvantages (Harte, 2011).  Rather than avoiding social media, or restricting ourselves to being passive observers, following basic guidelines will enable teachers to exploit the advantages of social media.  My favourite question I like to ask is, “Would I want to read this on the front page of my local newspaper?”  Make use of privacy settings, pause and reflect prior to clicking send, and maintain a professional relationship with students (i.e.:  K-12 students should never be “Friends”).  When it comes to emails, Harte (2011) recommends double checking before sending every email message to ensure it is professional, free of errors, and is going only to the intended recipient(s).

Thomas (2009) uses the word judicious when posting text or photos on Facebook.  This includes critical comments about colleagues, your employer or your employer’s policies.  Inherent to the position, teachers are role models.  Online or offline, professionalism must prevail.


Harte, H. (2011). E-professionalism for early care and education providers. Dimensions of Early Childhood, 39(3), 3-10.

Thomas, Gordon. (2009, May 5). Teachers and Facebook, ATA News, 43(17). Retrieved from:

Digital Writing – a new skill?

This week I have been thinking about student writing and its application to the internet.  Students will be expected to be contributing citizens to our digital world.  As educators, we need to make visible the somewhat nebulous skills required for writing online.  Students are in need of a new set of writing skills for use in digital writing mediums.  Writing tasks differ with online writing in comparison to traditional writing. (McEachern, 2011)

Looking at Facebook through my teenage daughter’s page the “me, me, me” aspect of social media is evident.  “The research comes amid increasing evidence that young people are becoming increasingly narcissistic, and obsessed with self-image and shallow friendships.”  (Pearse, 2012)  Students require a shift from writing about themselves to writing with a clear purpose.  “Professional writers must rethink their writing strategies when they represent their organizations on Facebook.”  (p. 287, McEachern, 2011)

Therefore, what strategies do students need?  According to McEachern (2011), lessons in time management, publicity and controlling ones’ online image are key to successfully transferring previously developed skills to a professional setting.  Opportunities to practice writing in an authentic digital environment are also essential experience for learning.  “Well written” is being taken to a new realm.  Exploring how educators can foster writing skills for the internet will contribute to the media literacy skills students need for success.


McEachern, R. W. (2011). Experiencing a social network in an organizational context: the facebook internship. Business Communication Quarterly74(4), 486-493.  Retrieved from:

Pearse, D. (2012).  Facebook’s ‘dark side’:  study finds link to socially aggressive narcissism.  The Guardian.  Retrieved from:


The Heart of Online Learning

This week in my Digital Citizenry course, we looked at an array of teaching and learning options, including synchronous and asynchronous online learning.  After mulling over the advantages and disadvantages of both, I concluded that nothing replaces good teaching.  Maximizing student learning requires a solid pedagogical foundation.

Rourke & Coleman (2010) look closely at a case study where the pedagogy led the technology.  They outline how the online learning is scaffolded for the Postgraduate students in the study.  The scaffolding includes providing clear learning objectives, allowing opportunities for students to construct their own knowledge, providing exemplars, opportunities for collaboration and using sound assessment practices.  The researchers also speak of adapting learning activities to meet learning styles and preferences of the learners.  “The authentic design of the learning task was generated to utilize students learning styles, prior knowledge and experiences.”  (p. 269, Rourke & Coleman, 2010)  Scaffolding the learning sets students up for success.

Does an asynchronous or synchronous environment promote good teaching strategies?  Interestingly, a study by Murphy, Rodriguez-Manzanares & Barbour (2011) found that synchronous online teaching (SOT) approaches leaned towards direct instruction versus making use of the interactive features available.  “…our findings support the argument that it is not the media but the pedagogy that determines the interaction.”  Teachers using SOT feel pressured by time constraints.  “So the focus of cyber synchronous learning is often on quantity rather than quality.” (Hrastinski, 2008, cited in Ge, 2012)

Ge (2012) concluded that the blended cyber approach can help students achieve better results.  Opportunities to collaborate and exchange information in a synchronous environment complement time to reflect in an asynchronous environment. (Ge, 2012)   “It has become more important than ever that educators who choose to embrace technology for learning do so with a clear educational rational and a solid pedagogical grounding.” (p.278, Rourke & Coleman, 2010)  Simply put, this is the foundation of good teaching regardless of the learning environment.


Murphy, E., Rodríguez-Manzanares, M. A., & Barbour, M. (2011). Asynchronous and synchronous online teaching: perspectives of Canadian high school distance education teachers. British Journal Of Educational Technology42(4), 583-591

Rourke, A., & Coleman, K. (2010). E-learning in crisis: should not the pedagogy lead the technology? Journal Of Education Research4(3), 265-282.

Ge, Z.-G. (2012). Cyber asynchronous versus blended cyber approach in distance English learning. Journal Of Educational Technology & Society15(2), 286-297.