Journal – 9/30/2017

As citizens in a digital world, we must deal with a number of issues that did not exist thirty years ago. Some of these issues include the public sharing of our personal information, identity theft, and unhealthy online behaviors such as gaming, social media and online shopping addictions. But one of the issues we struggle with today that’s not new is that of bullying.  

Bullying is not a 21st century problem. It’s one that has existed forever.  Very few of us can say that we were never bullied as young children. Whether we had our hair pulled by the student sitting behind us, became victims of the “I’m not touching you” game played by our siblings or classmates, or were chased on a playground repeatedly by a kid who just wouldn’t leave us alone, we have all been treated in ways that made us feel like targets for teasing, name-calling, and/or cruelty.  The bullies we dealt with as children are the people who inspired the “Sticks and Stones” rhyme that our parents told us repeatedly as we were growing up. We were advised to ignore the things bullies said to us, and typically it worked. 

Bullying continues in the 21st century, but digital technology has made it a much bigger issue. Children continue to be teased and bothered by their siblings and peers, but it doesn’t stop there. As they grow up they face the risk of being “cyberbullied” by digital users, often people they may not even know. Cyberbullying is defined by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as bullying that takes place using electronic technology (“What is Cyberbullying |“, 2017). Electronic technology includes such things as cell phones, computers, laptops, tablets, and the Internet. Cyberbullies have much more opportunity to target their victims in a world where people are connected 24/7, so cyberbullying can happen anytime, anywhere, and the victim doesn’t even need to be present. 

Cyberbullying can be a much more serious issue than traditional bullying for a number of reasons. First, cyberbullies can be anyone, at any age. Their identities are easy to disguise because the bullying doesn’t take place face-to-face. They could be complete strangers disguised as “friends” or vice versa. This is called masquerading, and it is a common form of cyberbullying on social media and other online sites. Additionally, the victims can be anyone. People are much quicker to judge and willing to bully when they don’t have to do it face-to-face. Cyberbullying can involve anyone, and everyone, which makes it an issue for all of us. 

Secondly, the things that bullies say and do to their victims online can be shared with anyone, making the experience public. Publicly posted comments can lead to the participation of others in the cyberbullying of the victim.  It can  result in legal discipline for the perpetrator(s), depending on the information they share, and the results of their cyberbullying attacks. 

Thirdly, the information that’s posted online cannot be taken back. Once it is posted and shared with the world, it is there forever and can be used to perpetually haunt or harass the victims. The cyberbullying experience can take on a life of its own, beyond the original cyberbully, destroying the lives of victims, and possible “humiliating them to death” (TED, 2015).   

Cyberbullying can take on place in number of ways. Typically they are all forms of “harassment” creating opportunities for repeated malicious messages and posts designed to target victims Some cyberbullies target the victims personally by sending them repeated “flaming” emails, texts or chats in an effort to start trouble, threaten or instigate them. This can lead to physical harassment and potential physical harm. Others may “masquerade” and disguise themselves online in an effort to either gain information about the victim that can be shared with others, or to post things anonymously to belittle them or defame their character. Some cyberbullies form groups in which the victim is the target of “exclusion” and in which malicious online posts and conversations are made about him or herAnother form of cyberbullying takes place when personal information is shared about the victim, “outing” him or her in an effort to embarrass or defame him or her, or just expose someone publicly. 

Technology has turned bullying into a much bigger issue than it used to be. What was at one time personal attack among members of a local physical community has become a public one in world-wide digital community.  It’s important that we, as users of digital technology, understand what constitutes cyberbullying and act safely, ethically, and responsibly to help put an end to it.  


TED. (2015). Monica Lewinsky: The price of shame. Retrieved from 

What is Cyberbullying | (2017). Retrieved 30 September 2017, from  


Journal 9/23/2017

Copyright is a complex topic that affects all of us. Whether we are creators or consumers, it is important for us to recognize the laws surrounding the resources we find and use not just online, but in the world around us.

One of the most complicated things about copyright is in the use of terminology surrounding it. Students know what plagiarism is, and are taught that copying is wrong. Their teachers encourage them to rewrite what they read so that it appears in their own words, but, based on my experience, many do not require students to credit anyone but the source from where the information was found. It’s important for students to know that the information they find online does not belong to the site it was posted on, but the individual author or creator of the work.

Terms such as “fair use” can also be hard to understand. Fair use is often thought of as a blanket form of protection, on the basis that a resource is being used for educational purposes. The fact is that fair use allows people to use works that aren’t their own without getting permission and without paying for it when they are being used for purposes including news reporting, teaching, research, criticism or commenting (Hirtle, Hudson & Kenyon, 2009). It doesn’t mean the owners of those works don’t have to be credited.

The concept of public domain is based on creative materials that aren’t protected property. Such materials are, as the term implies, owned by the public, and can be used by anyone in any way they see fit without permission or authorization. Copyright laws do not apply to anything in the public domain.

Open source is concept in which a work is shared online and dedicated to the public domain. Open source files and programs are meant to be used, shared, and modified freely by anyone, but are still owned by the creators. While such files typically include no restrictions, they may require specific crediting to the original authors.

Creative commons is a system in which creators can share their original works for use, modification or sharing with others. Owners in creative commons can determine how they want their works to be licensed, specifying how they want to be credited, whether their works can be modified or shared, and whether they can be used commercially. The TEACH Act was passed by Congress in 2002, and was based on copyright laws as they pertain to the use of materials in educational settings. The acronym stands for Technology, Education and Copyright Harmonization, and the Act addresses the use of digital materials in distance learning and teaching specifically. It allows for teachers to use a wider range of resources in their courses, which can be shared with students online, who may store and copy them as needed for educational purposes. The Act does not allow for the distribution of purchased materials, such as textbooks or licensed materials.

Copyright laws are complex. With such a vast variety of intellectual property and media, it can be difficult to determine what is right and what is wrong when referencing or using others’ works. As good (digital) citizens it’s important for us to do what we can to understand our responsibilities to respecting the creators of any materials we use.


Hirtle, P.B., Hudson, E., & Kenyon, A. T. (2009). Copyright & cultural institutions: Guidelines for digitization for U.S. libraries, archives, & museums. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.


Creative Presentations

PowToon is easy to use, includes numerous objects, characters, settings and other tools with which to create engaging and fun presentations. They can be shared in video, of Powerpoint form.  (added 9/17/17)

Digital Citizenship Resources

Brainpop is a site I plan to use with my elementary students this semester. The site is very kid friendly, and includes videos, activities, and printable assignments to reinforce learning in my technology classroom. (added 9/17/17)

CreativeCommons is a go-to for crediting my own work, so that I can share it online with others, and authorize use or revision as I see fit. (added 9/17/17)

Common Sense Media includes reviews of apps and tools as they apply to my elementary students. This source also includes a digital citizenship curriculum and printable lessons for K-12 classrooms. (added 9/10/17)

NetSmartz is designed with young children in mind and provides students with videos, activities and lessons as they apply to digital citizenship and Internet safety. Students get to know Clicky, an animated character who, with his friends perform in music videos that get kids singing and dancing along to songs about digital citizenship. (added 9/10/17)

Webonauts Internet Academy is a PBS sponsored original online game that helps students to understand their roles as digital citizens. (added 9/27/2017)

Copyright Resources

Copyright Kids is a site that simplifies copyright laws. While the design of this site leaves much to be desired, I do like the fact that the information is easily explained. It’s a resource I will be using with my students next week. (added 9/24/17)

Fair Use Elevator is an interesting site that really calls your attention to all of the criteria that make a resource “fair use”. (added 9/24/17)

Cyber Bee This fun question and answer activity is something I would use as a discussion guide on a smart board with my students. (added 9/24/17)

Be Internet Awesome is a Google created game and curriculum for students. As they explore a world called Interland, they participate in activities about digital safety, kindness, privacy and literacy. (added 9/30/17)

Microsoft Training courses are available for educators (or anyone) and provide an opportunity for them to earn badges as they complete training in a variety of content areas, including digital citizenship. (added 9/30/17)

History of Copyright I taught a lesson to 4th and 5th-grade students and included some information about the Library of Congress, that allowed me to integrate history with technology.  (added 10//6/17)

Online Safety

Safe Online Surfing is offered by the FBI, and is a collection of online games designed for 3rd-8th grade students. Teachers can create an account, which will allow them to track student use. (added 9/30/17)

Social media

Online Shopping Statistics as they relate to social media really makes you think about how we are influenced without even realizing it. These statistics are from a 2016 study by UPS. (added 10/6/17)


Broadband Homework Gap is from 2015, but provides a pretty good view of the issue of internet access and how it affects students in the U.S. (added 10/6/17)



In 2015, while Internet users were blogging on social media pages, uploading videos and other content, and downloading files from a variety of sources, they had no idea that the Federal Communications Commission was going to bat for them. The FCC’s vote to preserve the open Internet, also known as “net neutrality”, made it possible for them to continue to use the Internet as they wish.

The premise of the Net Neutrality is that all traffic on the Internet should be treated the same, and that no one has the right to block or slow down services that a user chooses to access. And while it makes sense and sounds fair to most of us, the decision did come with opposition from internet providers who can no longer control bandwidth or force streaming companies to pay fees for faster service.

Most Internet users give little thought to the way Internet traffic is managed by their service providers. Providers are able to redirect network traffic to ensure smooth service during periods in which the Internet is congested, a benefit that users experience but don’t pay attention to (Reardon, 2015). The FCC’s 2015 decision to limit that control means that Internet service providers aren’t allowed to target any particular services or applications because they use too much bandwidth. They are required to treat all traffic on their networks the same.

This summer, net neutrality has become threatened by a 2017 change in the FCC administration (Reddy, 2017). Newly appointed chairman, Ajit Pai is reportedly endorsed by Internet Service Providers, and if he gets his way, Internet users will lose the freedom of on-demand access to any website or online service they choose (Brodkin, 2017). The potential for ISP’s to restrict what sites you use means that they could become sponsors for particular companies, like Bing for example. Consider the scenario in which you want to “Google” something and your provider only allows you to use Bing. Pai defends his argument with claims that dismantling net neutrality will improve the future of America’s economy.

While media giants Facebook, Twitter, Amazon and Reddit all support net neutrality, Internet providers are spending a lot of money to keep the ball rolling that could possible dismantle it. It is in their best interest to do so, as it could potentially allow them to charge us for how we use the internet. It’s not unrealistic to imagine that we’ll be paying for access to specific sites the way we pay for access to specific television channels if net neutrality ceases to exist.

Despite the fact that most Internet users give no thought to the freedom that comes with net neutrality, the day is coming that it becomes an issue of which everyone will be aware. The threat to our freedom of information is a real one, and if the FCC changes the way in which we currently use the Internet, it will no doubt be in the best interest of corporate and political America.




Brodkin, J. (2017). Tech Policy. Retrieved 15 September 2017, from

McKay, T. (2017). FCC chair Ajit Pai can’t come up with a single plausible reason not to screw up the entire US Internet. Retrieved from

Reardon, M. (2015). 13 Things you need to know about the FCC’s net neutrality regulation. Retreived from

Reddy, N. (2017). Net neutrality in 2017 – what you should know. Retrieved from

Digital Citizenship

Digital Citizenship should be thought of as a core skill for today’s K-12 students. The digital world in which they live is one filled with opportunities, but includes a number of dangers of which digital users need to be made aware. Many of the parents of today’s students are using technology without realizing the power of the tools they are using. Many of them have not been taught about safe and ethical use of the Internet, so they are not capable of teaching their children. That’s why it’s so important that we, as educators, understand our responsibility to these children. They live in a digital world, and need to know how to use it safely, and we are their best hope for becoming good digital citizens.

In my role as a K-5 technology educator, I spend the first quarter of every school year focusing on technology rules and digital safety, respect and responsibility. One of my go-to resources for this unit of instruction is Common Sense Media. I’ve been a registered user of this site for more than five years, and have taken advantage of the many resources offered, including posters, lessons, and parent information, much of which is available in both English and Spanish, which is a necessity in my district. A scope and sequence is provided for classes at grade levels K-12, including lesson plans for each unit. One of my favorites among the lessons is the “online neighborhood” instruction and video, both of which my 1st grade students enjoy. There are also online activities for older elementary students to play independently, including digital compass, or the teacher/classroom based digital passport. Teachers are able to create classes in Digital Passport, assigning specific activities and tracking student progress. My favorite activity in the application is one in which students create a video using music and images, crediting the artists every step of the way. In the end, the video credits the producer, the musicians, and the photographers. The experience inspires students to think differently about the credits at the end of a movie, understanding the importance of providing credit where it’s due. Another activity in this online classroom requires students to identify appropriate and inappropriate text messages.

Another website that is used for elementary aged students throughout my district is NetSmartz. Children enjoy getting to know Clicky and his friends, who are animated characters on the site. Clicky and his friends animated music videos about Internet safety, which are featured on a weekly basis, and there are accompanying activities that students can enjoy independently. I recently printed some posters about internet safety and technology use from this site, which I shared with classroom teachers, in an effort to keep our rules about technology use consistent throughout our school.

While digital citizenship should be a core skill in schools today, it needs to be taught by not just the technology instructor but by all educators. If the teachers in any school are consistent with their expectations regarding the use of technology and digital citizenship our students will be better able to recognize their ethical, responsible and safe use of digital tools.



As citizens , we are recognized as members or inhabitants of a community. And within every community, there are rules that need to be followed for our own well-being and the well-being of others.  Whether our communities are physical or digital, the same basic rules apply: be kind, respect others and protect yourself.

Understanding and practicing these concepts is much easier in a physical community, where we recognize the faces of community members, make eye-contact when speaking to one another, and often base our personal safety on visual observation of the world around us.  But in a digital world, these basic rules are much more complicated. The digital world includes more potential for danger and it is harder to recognize and easier to disguise than that in our physical world.  Digital communities have no physical boundaries and can include an infinite number of members, most of which we may not know. Profile photos may mislead us into trusting people who are not who they say they are.  As we communicate with others, what we say and do cannot be forgotten or erased, and remains a part of the digital world forever.  As digital citizens, we must understand the dangers and responsibilities that come with our use of the Internet, and practice the use of digital tools with respect, safety and kindness toward others.

As a K-5 educator, I begin my school year by discussing Internet safety with my students. We compare their neighborhoods with “digital” neighborhoods. Just as kids aren’t allowed to just go outside and walk down the street without asking an adult, they should also get permission to go online at home.  Just as they should not talk to strangers in their neighborhood, they should not talk to strangers online either. There may be places in their neighborhood that are safe to visit, but there are also places they should not go. It’s important that when they go online, they know where those safe places are. And most importantly, they should always tell an adult if something makes them feel uncomfortable, no matter what neighborhood they are exploring.

I also spend much time with my students throughout the school year practicing digital rights and citing sources. At the bottom of every research worksheet that my 1st-3rd grade students complete, I include the question “How do I know?” This is where they write  the web address of the district tool they have accessed (Pebblego or Brittanica). 3rd-5th-grade students use the citation tools provided by Encyclopedia Brittanica to cite their sources. (Typically, we do not allow students to conduct Google searches, for fear of encountering inappropriate images and sites.)

Online Courses

Through my years as a technology instructor I’ve focused my attentions on free web tools and resources. As I’ve completed my most recent graduate course about online learning, I’ve continued to do so. My exploration of tools available for creating online learning environments has resulted in the following list.

Google Sites – I’ve used Google sites in the past with my high school students and with the seamless inclusion of YouTube videos, and Google apps, it’s simple to create collaborative environments, student worksheets and forms, and diagrams necessary for online instruction. Google Analytics has also allowed me to monitor how often the tools have been used outside of school hours which is a feature I found useful for measuring the success of the course.

Schoology was the online application I chose to use for this course, and seems to be the online course creator that was most often used by my colleagues. I found it easy to use with those tools I’m most accustomed to using – Google apps and YouTube videos. I especially appreciated the support for collaboration offered by Schoology. And although I didn’t necessarily use the grading feature for my course, the fact that it’s available makes this a tool I would consider in the future.

At Udemy, online course creation is free. In-depth courses can be created by anyone to use either for free or for a fee (for the creator to determine). If you’re looking to sell an online course you’ve designed, this is a great option.

CourseSites by Blackboard is free resource for creating open courses or MOOC’s, in a social learning environment. It includes assessment options and accommodates a variety of media.

Learnopia is another free online course creator. Similar to Udemy, course designers can offer their courses for free or for a charge.

While the above provide options for designing online courses, a number of sites exist that offer pre-designed online instruction, one of which was included as a resource in my own online course. Khan Academy offers free courses and resources in a wide variety of subject areas. Additionally, Peer to Peer University (P2PU) is an open source learning community that offers courses in a number of subject areas. It is run by volunteers and focuses on “learning circles” where participants can take online classes together.