My mission is to inspire and educate others on how to use technology responsibly to learn, collaborate, communicate, and create content. Through these four areas, my goal is to empower people to be change-makers and ambassadors for Christ.
- Equitable Learning Experience
- Digital Citizenship
Diving in Deeper…
I had to really think about it when asked to come up with a personal mission statement for my role as a Technology Director and Coach. When I was a classroom teacher my goal was to build a personal relationship with each child, teach to their diverse needs, help them fall in love with learning, and ultimately help them grow in their relationship with Christ. Although I don’t have my own classroom of students to love on and impact, now in my new role my sphere of influence extends to a broader audience. Currently, I get to come alongside K-8 teachers and help them design curriculum that integrates new technology. I also can emphasize digital citizenship within professional development courses I lead and help students be aware and active members in their community. It is pretty awesome! Although it is easy to get caught up on simply using and learning new technologies, I find my core passion and mission in my vocation to be centered around sharing my faith. I want to help both educators and students use technology in four purposeful ways:
- Learn: I want to help teachers and students use technology wisely to explore the world around them.
- Collaborate: equip teachers and students with the skills necessary to network and work with others in an online world.
- Communicate: Assist teachers and students by helping them learn to navigate different platforms and mediums to share what they’ve learned and contribute new ideas.
- Create: Empower teachers and students to use technology to improve the world around them.
I believe that as Christ-followers, we can leverage technology to impact the world around us by focusing on those four areas above. With an emphasis on being stewards of the resources we’ve been given, I want to inspire those in my community to use their knowledge and talents to be change-makers for Christ.
I have 3 guiding principles that will help me reach my mission.
Equitable Learning Experiences
While participating in my class, Values, Ethics, and Foundations in Digital Education, we read a couple of articles on equity. It was interesting to learn more about the issue of the digital divide in our nation and in the world at large because usually the people who are privileged and “have” do not take time to consider the other. In his writing, The Information Revolution, Floridi concludes that the digital divide is becoming a chasm, creating new forms of digital discrimination. I remember a course during my undergraduate studies that had us read about the impact that social-economics and race can have on a students’ education. My thought was schools with money are able to purchase technology, my school being one example of that. We have one-to-one devices, but I know there are schools close by that still only have computer labs that are shared by various classrooms. It is a bit scary to think of the unfair advantage it gives someone if they are more a part of the infosphere. This inequity is an excellent example of how some students will be more prepared to use, create, and engage in a digital world because of their educational experience, helping that chasm grow bigger.
One of my goals as a Technology Director will be to fight for every student’s right to an equitable learning experience. This directly ties into ISTE Standards for Coaches 1b that states: “Facilitate equitable use of digital learning tools and content that meet the needs of each learner.” Currently, my school has done a great job of providing every child with a one-to-one device and access to information. However, we also need to be aware of the digital divide between those digitally literate and those who are not and help close this gap. I have seen examples of this if we gain a new student with limited technology experience, especially in middle school. Those students (or new teacher hires) have to work extra hard not to get lost in our tech-heavy school and meet teacher’s expectations. Cornerstone is also at a very exciting point where we are preparing to replicate our school and work with Christian educators around the world. While reading Equity, Access, and the Digital Divide in Learning Technologies, it highlighted children around the world who had never used technology before but were able to adapt and further their education with limited directions or help when exposed to technology (2016). I am very excited to think that soon I can help students internationally gain access to technology so that their educational experiences can be transformed.
Another guiding principle that will help me reach my mission statement is digital citizenship. In my role, I need to advocate for and help educate others on the significance and need to teach digital citizenship in our classrooms. A digital citizen is someone who uses technology to engage with others in social, political and learning environments online. I have seen from my own experience that our students need more guidance on how to be good digital citizens (adults too!). Campbell and Garner (2016) point out in their writing that we need to critically engage with technology and not become passive users while online. They illustrate their point by talking about a hammer. It can do a lot of good if it is used correctly, but can also be quite destructive if placed in the wrong hands (Campbell and Garner, 2016). If not taught how to use technology responsibly and wisely, we run the risk of exposing our students to many harmful things: inappropriate information, pornography, cyber-bullying, and violence just to name a few. Prensky (2013) also discusses the topic of digital wisdom. Most of our students are born into a digital era and would fall into the group of “digital natives”. They are well adept or pick up quickly digital literacy skills: researching, networking, collaborating, creating, contributing, etc. However, we also need to have an emphasis on practicing digital wisdom: being able to take those abilities to solve problems with the help of enhanced technology. It is stated by Campbell and Garner (2016), “…wisdom is needed to engage with and live within the technology and media that have become our environment” (p. 37). Therefore, one of my goals is to help students develop digital wisdom along with digital literacy skills.
Furthermore, students should also understand other practical information while participating as a digital citizen online. For example, how to protect their identity and understanding how companies data-mine and sell information to marketing companies. ISTE Standards for Coaches addresses these digital citizenship skills in standard 7 (see figure 1)
By encompassing these digital citizenship standards into my job and supporting teachers in teaching digital citizenship courses, I can help others interact responsibly and safely online. To illustrate the point further, you would never let a 16 year behind the wheel without going through drivers ed. We need to put a higher importance on helping our digitally native students navigate the online world before giving them too much independence.
Most importantly, I pray that my time as a digital leader will help empower other people to be change-makers and ambassadors for Christ. ISTE Standard for Coach 7a states explicitly that a goal of technology coaches should be to “Inspire and encourage educators and students to use technology for civic engagement and to address challenges to improve their communities” (2019). It would be a shame to spend so much time and energy equipping the next generation with powerful knowledge and digital literacy skills if we did not encourage them to use those abilities to make a difference. As Christ-followers we are called to spread the good news. We can do that in many ways- one of which is by blessing others through our vocation or talents. We can help raise up a generation of computer scientists, engineers, and inventors who can help improve the human condition by solving problems. We can help teach our students to empathize with others and use their digital literacy skills to advocate for the least and the lost on various social media platforms. At a basic level, we can teach our students how to be kind, thoughtful, and critical thinkers as they engage with others online. We can cultivate change-makers who make a difference in their communities and act counter-cultural. To close, some speculate that we are in “The Information Revolution”. Just like how other scientific revolutions have changed the world, this fourth revolution will also alter our understanding of the external world, and how we see ourselves (Floridi, 2010). As technology advances, let us not be swept along in the tides of change as passive and silent consumers. Let us engage critically and use our abilities to bless others and make a difference.
Campbell, Heidi A., & Garner, Stephen (2016). Theology of Technology 101. In Networked Theology: Negotiating Faith in a Digital Culture (19-37). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic.
Floridi, Luciano (2010). The Information Revolution. In Information- A Very Short Introduction (3-18). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
ISTE Standards for Coaches. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.iste.org/standards/for-coaches
Jones, Marshall & Bridges, Rebecca (2016). Equity, Access, and the Digital Divide in Learning Technologies: Historical Antecedents, Current Issues, and Future Trends. In The Wiley Handbook of Learning Technology (327-47). John Wiley & Sons Inc.
Prensky, Marc (2013). From Digital Natives to Digital Wisdom. In From Digital Natives to Digital Wisdom: Hopeful Essays for 21st Century Learning (201-215). Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Corwin. \