Mike Ribble, Educational Technology Presenter, and Director of Technology recently discussed digital citizenship in our schools. As the author of Digital Citizenship in Schools, Nine Elements All Student Should Know, Ribble is enjoying the release of his 3rd edition, a culmination of efforts from his first two publications with real life examples from inside the field.
Ribble nicely explains how the digital life of the student is becoming so commonplace that curriculum and culture appear to be melding together. According to Ribble, soon the phrase "digital citizenship" may refer to "citizenship" as the former expression becomes more and more redundant.
Rod Berger: Well, I'm looking forward to this conversation, Mike. Digital citizenship is a hot topic, but it's also a very important topic as we're looking at transitioning students, teachers, educators and the community of education forward through learning opportunities in the world we live. As someone who has passion about digital citizenship, tell me where you stand regarding where we need to go moving forward? I think people understand; they recognize it in the pantheon of verbiage in education. But now I believe it means something different to people. Where do you see it?
Mike Ribble: As you mentioned, it was one of those things, 12 or 14 years ago when I got started in this area. It was a real sideline piece. It was tangential to education and what was going on. But now, because it is such on the forefront of how we live in a daily life, I tend to step back into my educator shoes where I started my career. I look at it from the respect of, "Are we preparing students to move on to that next level and how are we doing that?"
Digital technology is a part of how we live our lives. I'm not saying it's the core of it, but it is a major aspect of it. When you look at children in preschool using devices, how do we begin to prepare parents, so they understand the process that goes from the children's hands before school, to in school; how that relationship works together?
I think there's been a pendulum effect of trying to push a lot of technology because "we got to have technology," and now I believe we're coming back towards the center. That's where I feel digital citizenship resides. It's the balance between using the devices and how it's used in society and also, how it all ties together.
I know there are many proponents out there and I don't disagree with them that, but, at some point, we want to drop the word digital, and it should just be part of citizenship; how we live our lives, how we interact with other people. In the last two to three years it's become very exciting. I hear from a lot more doctoral candidates that are doing digital citizenship as their dissertation. It's moving this topic forward. How are we going to be as people using technology?
RB: Mike, let's talk about the responsibility if we can even say that, of the technologies out there. When I think about digital citizenship, I think about it from the lens of a parent. Or working in education, I think about the student's side and the way in which teachers are experiencing, teaching and talking about it. Then I want to think about the technology companies and what role they play and what responsibility do they have in this conversation about digital citizenship when it comes to what they are developing? I'm not trying to be Pollyanna because I know that when they're sitting in their sprints, and they're talking with their developers and technical teams, they're probably not having conversations about digital citizenship and that's okay to some degree. But if we're expanding that, and it's a group of CEOs, and they're talking about how to build their products, what do you think they should be saying or how should they include digital citizenship in a way in which they develop technology and think about the user experience?
MR: I think they should be part of that conversation. I think education needs to be at the table with those CEOs and discussing where they want to move this. The interesting thing is, a lot of the technologies that have come out, weren't meant for education and they've been almost shoehorned into education.
Now things have changed over time, the Apple products, the Microsoft’s, they've begun to meld and work those pieces together. But if you take something like the iPad, which is so ubiquitous in education; it's a product that wasn't originally created for the education market. It was a consumer device for individual users, and it slid into the education market. I think it surprised even the folks in Cupertino that all of a sudden it became this device with all the apps, etc. I'm not saying they were upset with the results (ha,) but I think they were caught a little off-guard.
I think some of these CEOs build it for one thing and we tend to shift it in education to something a little bit different, it's not terribly different, but it becomes something else. Our requirements in education are different. I think that we need to have that conversation and it would be great to have longer, more in-depth, interaction with CEOs, large companies and say, "Here are the things that we see in the field." I'm sure Apple or even Microsoft to some extent, have some of those people, but when you're such a large company, it's kind of like turning the Titanic, it's a very slow movement as you go along.
RB: Yes. I agree with you. It can be a delicate conversation with lots of different groups in the way in which they think it applies to what they're trying to do and the problems they're trying to solve. Some groups try to shoehorn their technology, but sadly, they see an opportunity. Hopefully, Education has done a good job of bringing them back to center to say, "Wait a minute, we still are the customers here, and here's what we need."
If we're looking at the technology, Mike, I'm seeing a trend with technology that combines kids, curriculum, creativity, self-publishing and understanding. That's the world these children and students are living in, and regardless of their skill set or their interests, that's one thing that is a commonality. So, how can I share and communicate my ideas in an integrated fashion that incorporates different technologies, different people, and different mediums?
Do you see the same thing and what do you think the long-term impact is on the way we experience curriculum?
MR: I agree, wholeheartedly. We see products like Buncee out there, starting to meet those needs to help educators in the classrooms to expand that idea of technology.
When we started off, we took the lessons that we had, and we tried to shift them into a technology realm. Phase one was an electrifying of the old lesson plans. Now, teachers are seeing that there are many other tools out there that can move well past what they have been doing in the classroom. My wife who's an educator as well teaches a third-grade class, and she uses here iPad in her classroom, to shoot videos of her students while they do the book "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs." They do a weather forecast tied to that book that she videotapes.
It's a huge divergence from where they were, and it gives them a different way to expand their ideas and understanding of that text. It's not a long lesson; it doesn't go on for weeks and weeks but it's something that takes technology, it takes the interest of the students, and then it couples those together. It takes us past, "Here you go, now sit down, and write an essay about what 'Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs' meant to you and tell us the main message." Now, they can take that and show it to the teacher in a different realm that they couldn't before.
I think we're going to see, a large explosion of that movement in education. I think we're ready as educators, to move away from this very static lecture response mentality, and move on to, "Hey, these kids can begin to build on these ideas." They were doing that before technology, but with the flip classroom idea, I can share the lecture piece. They can do it on their time as homework, and when they come into the class, now, we're not just talking about base stuff. Now, we're taking it to the next level, and we can begin to move past "Oh, here are dates, names and things like that. Now we have, "What does that mean? How do we start making that connection?"
RB: How do we plug-in our interpretation as teachers and students, and collaborative groups of students? Mike, I know you had your book through ISTE, Digital Citizenship In Schools, Nine Elements All Students Should Know. It's now in its third edition. I would imagine when you write a book, you obviously hope that you'll have multiple editions, right? It continuous to live, and breath, as a valuable piece of literature. What does it tell you now that you're in your third edition when it comes to who's buying it, and how they're applying it? How do you look at that?
MR: It's just been exciting to hear from folks, both in the United States and internationally. We've had a large contingent of people. It's so wonderful for me to go to things like the ISTE Conference. Here's a little example; I was sitting at the conference last year in Philadelphia, and I was near the bookstore, I had my badge on, and I was sitting there, and I was catching up on some emails or whatever. And this person, sitting next to me says, "I know who you are." I said, "Okay. Well, that's nice." (laugh) She mentioned how she just moved to the International School in Singapore, but she had been teaching in the Australian outback, and she had used my book with her Aborigine students to teach digital citizenship. When you see and hear those kinds of examples, how far your ideas have expanded; it's a little humbling when you think about it. This third edition to me was a real labor of love as far as the versions.
At first, I was getting it out there to get it going, the second edition was cleaning up, and making some adjustments, but by the third one, we used real life examples from in the field of how the nine elements, ideas, were being implemented.
I had an example from higher education, teaching pre-service teachers.
I had one from a K-12 district in Canada that used it over a five-year period and implemented digital citizenship in their district. The third was from some folks at the University of Kentucky and the State Department in Kentucky. They built upon it to create what they identified as iDrive Digital or the Digital Driver's License. It uses the nine elements, and it's a free product that anybody can use. It's still out there, and in its second edition; it's version 2.0, and just a great, great product.
RB: You know, you sound like a proud parent. (laugh)
MR: I am, very much. (laugh)
RB: I think it's great. It's needed from many different perspectives. It's nice to see that it hasn't been treated as a one-off. It's a way of incorporating principles throughout a school experience for a child, and also educators; then hopefully, like you said, it transfers over to daily life, at home and in our communities.
Well, Mike, it's been a great pleasure. The author of Digital Citizenship in Schools, Nine Elements All Student Should Know. And look, if you've been recognized at ISTE, that just means, "Say no more, right?" You're a star in the field, Mike. (laugh)
MR: (laugh) That's where I'm at. Thank you, Rod, I appreciate the time.
RB: Continued success.
Mike Ribble, Ed.D. has served as a classroom biology teacher, a secondary school administrator, a network manager for a community college, and a university instructor. He received a doctorate in educational leadership from Kansas State University. Currently, Ribble is the Director of Technology for the Manhattan-Ogden School District. Ribble has created and implemented a plan for identifying needs and providing equity of technology distribution in the USD 383 schools. He has led and participated in several projects that have provided additional technology and access to faculty and students while managing a budget of over $1.6M.
Dr. Rod Berger is a global education media personality featured on edCircuit, in EdTech Review India, Scholastic's District Administrator and on RFD TV's Rural Education Special. A respected leader in marketing and communications strategies for EdTech companies, Dr. Berger has interviewed Ministers of Education, leading voices like Sir Ken Robinson, U.S. Secretary Arne Duncan, AFT President Randi Weingarten and others.