I am Wired for Change – Are You?

Are the X-Gens more adaptable to change?

I am a typical Generation X – a shadow of my parents baby boomer generation. My digital metamorphosis started sometime in the 80’s. Change was something that I expected in my life. Not just change, but rapid change. Almost like yesterday, I remember the new channel called MTV. I watched Little House on the Prairie everyday after school, waiting for my mother and step-father to come home  (a true Latchey kid, in a mixed family). I loved TV. Knight Rider, Facts of Life, Growing Pains. And my favourite -I watching Star Trek “TNG” loyally every week. Of course, this led to the natural progression of video games. In middle school.  I played video games by hooking up to an old black and white TV (that usually required a set a pliers to turn the channel). My first was the Atari400. It seems like yesterday that my friends and I would spend hours playing Star Raiders or Donkey Kong. I can quite honestly say that I blame Super Mario Brothers and Adventures of Zelda for all of my problems in high school. Reading and Arithmetic were on the back shelf. School was boring. I don’t recall ever feeling “fascinated” when live newscasts of the Gulf War showed up on my TV screen, although I do remember wishing I could watch it in colour, like my neighbours did.  I learned to use an electronic keyboard in “typing class” and how to center my page, “ff,jjj,fff,jjj” which still haunts me today. By first year University I owned my own electronic keyboard and then my very first laptop computer, a Tandy computer from Radio Shack. I remember clearly getting my first colour TV with a remote that didn’t have cords.  In the 90’s – my first computer, internet connection, digital phone, cd player, dvd player, Ipod, memory key (1G costing $80). I remember having to learn how to use Word, then Wordperfect, then Star Office and then Word again and now I don’t use any of it. I had to switch from Outlook to First Class. I changed my internet service provider six times in order to find the best deals. I changed my blog hosts from blogger, to edublogs, to wordpress. I changed from iWeb to wikispaces for student collaboration and then to individual student accounts.

I no longer have cable. I no longer have a landline. My CD’s and DVD’s are no longer on that shelf. We don’t rent DVD’s. We don’t buy CD’s. Many of the once NEW technologies, have been replaced by something new. More change.

I have come to realize that I have been wired for change. Really. My generation grew up with ‘new’ of everything. In our learning years – our school aged years, we had to adapt to a rapid redesign, revision, tranformation, tweaking, switching.

Search Stories in the Classroom – Digital Story Telling

Last spring, Youtube released a tool called: Youtube Search Story Creator. You may have seen this famous video called: Parisian Love that was shown on a television ad during Superbowl.

This tool is simple to use and could be a great digital story telling tool in the classroom or school.
A few ideas:

1) Have students use a main character in a story and decide what types of Google searches she/he would have done throughout the story. This would elicit discussions about events, character choices, point of view, critical thinking skills, sequencing and other strategies
2) Have student use themselves – pick 4 topics that they would have ‘Googled’ this past weekend. Other student must INFER what it was the student was doing or trying to do.
3) Have schools use this tool to demonstrate what topics are being taught (teachers can pool together what type of searches they are doing).
4) Teachers can use this tool to demonstrate what subjects or strands are being taught – as an overview
5) How to plan a trip? Have student go through the different stages of planning a trip. Partner up the students and they can narrate each others stories. Integrate this into a mapping or social studies lesson.
6) Have your students create a Search Story to tell you about their interests.
7) Create a search story as a way to discuss one’s digital footprints.
8) Teach students to go from very general to very specific when discussing a topic.
9) ?
10) ?

The tool is somewhat customizable, allowing you to search pictures, maps, blogs and choose your own music. You need to use your youtube account (google account) to upload the final product.

Example of one that I did – demonstrates “me”.

Here – Doug Peterson uses the tool to tell a story about his digital footprint, his interests and his current projects.

If you have any further suggestions or can share a digital story that you have tried with this tool, please consider adding it to my list.
Additional Resources:
@teachertracks lists some excellent ideas about how to use Google Search Stories in your classroom in her blog: Teacher Tracks

My Footprints


“There’s something happening here…. What it is ain’t exactly clear” – Buffalo Springfield

Social Media has become an important part of my life.  I probably spend  more time having conversations, discussions and collaboration  with people online then I do face to face. My Digital Footprints come from a variety of social networking sites – all tell you something about me.  You don’t need to be a profiler to know what music I like or where I enjoy spending my off hours.  It is my intention to have a digital footprint that demonstrates my core values -That I am a strong believer in social justice issues, that my family comes first, that I love teaching and sharing. It is my intention to leave my own legacy – one that depicts a person that fights for what is right, a person that believes in sharing, and commitment to a cause. Last week @dougpete (Doug Peterson) wrote a blog that prompted me to reflect on my own Digital Footprint. When it started, Why it Started, How it impacted me?

IMG_1451I use twitter as my news and information aggregate, and to converse with and from people around the world.  I use Skype to connect and talk at a more personal level with colleagues, friends and family. Google Voice to make my long distance phone calls, Facebook to connect at a more personal level with friends and family, Diggo for group bookmarking, blogging to express my own reflections and ideas about the changing nature of education, Wikis to collaborate and share, Nings to facilitate my online courses, Elluminate to learn and share,  Flikr to display my pictures, Delicious to share my bookmarks,  blipfm to share my music, Google Docs to collaborate and share documents….and on, and on, and on…..

Don’t misunderstand who I am. I would prefer face to face connections 98% of the time. My online digital life however,  has opened up many opportunities. I attribute many of my successes to my PLN (Professional Learning Network). I have developed friendships across the globe – with people whom I share my visions and passions about education, about music, about social justice and about our environment.  I feel so incredibly fortunate to be surrounded by some of the most innovative and forward thinking educators.

Am I concerned about leaving a footprint that can never be erased?  Not for a second.  In fact, the impression that anyone leaves – especially, face to face can have impressions that last forever. Whether it be online, or in person,  I have made a choice to uphold a certain standard.  My choice of blogs, music, friends, bookmarks, collaborators, twitterers, are all guided by these standards.

Do I stop behaving a certain way when I am not online? The day that I chose to be an educator was the day that I knew that no matter where I am – I have ethical standards to model and uphold. That is my choice.

Have you thought about your DIGITAL FOOTPRINTS? Have you thought about your  CARBON FOOTPRINT? Have you thought about your FACE TO FACE footprint?

A few resources that I’ve collected along the way thanks to many of you out there:






Track your digital footprint:



“Oh, no , when did I do this?”

What’s a Digital Footprint and why would you want one?



Online identity: http://kidshealth.org/kid/watch/house/online_id.html

Guidelines for teachers using social networking sites:


Teachers Beware of your digital footprint: http://www.classroominthecloud.net/2010/09/teachers-beware-of-your-digital.html

Digital Footprint- Your Online Data Trail:


My Digital Footprint:


My FootprintSD – A talke of Two footprints – for students.

What no footprint?


Superintendent reacts to teacher Facebook pages


Digital Natives are Entering the Teaching Profession – Now What?

Digital Natives who are Entering the Teaching Profession  need mentorship and guidance from the so called, ‘Digital Immigrants’.


I have switched my role as an educator from teaching one end of the Digital Generation spectrum to the other. For context, I will explain. I have been teaching an Instructional Technologies course at Brock University to pre-service teachers in Ontario, Canada. This comes after spending the past 11 years as a classroom teacher for the Hamilton Wentworth District School Board teaching 12 year olds. I am still working with the “Net-generation- also called, ‘Generation Y’ , however I am teaching to the opposite bookend.

One common theme that has caused me serious thought- in every one of my classes this year is how concerned my current students are about their digital identity or digital footprint. Online safety, digital citizenship, privacy, teacher online ethics, and appropriate online behaviours – are all topics that my students continue to bring to my attention daily. This information goes well with recent research out of Berkley that concluded that the Digital Generation does care about online privacy – (They just don’t know their rights).

I am teaching 120 students. Of these students, 20 of them used social networking tools prior to my class. When asked, many of my students reported a ‘discomfort’ with online media tools (but good comfort with computer use). This fits well with a study out of Nortwestern University that indicated that college students do have a lack of web savvy skills. This is not what I expected. From the onset, many of them told me quite out right that they disagreed with the use of these tools due to privacy and safety concerns. Regardless, my requirement was (is) that they all begin to use Twitter as an initial platform to develop their online identity. This has not been as easy as I thought. Many of them (not all) changed their names, created alias names and are using generic pictures (thank goodness for Twitter lists!). My students tell me that they are afraid of compromising their privacy. They tell me that as students themselves, they have come from a system that has reminded them over and over of online dangers, online predators, plagiarism concerns and personal identity risk. This is what they see and read in the media. Their schools blocked sites with filtering systems, had strict rules about using personal electronic devices and only a few (if any) of their teachers ever modeled the use any form of networking tools as an alternate form of learning.

I tell them that their concerns are valid. I tell them I am proud that they uphold standards of safety and privacy. I agree with them, that digital citizenship is the single most important skill we need to teach our young learners and care about ourselves. But I point out (strongly) – every day – that our young learners are experiencing a different kind of education- one where the walls of their classrooms extend beyond their schools and communities. Where information access is immediate and uncensored. One where questions can be asked and problems solved between students and classrooms from any grade, at any school and at any time of the day with access to abundant information. I remind them that they will always have access to learning themselves – and that they can choose what they learn and from who. For them, leadership is about what they give and how the contribute and NOT about grades.

But they are frustrated and confused because we keep telling them that it is THEY that are considered the Digital Natives. It is true – they all have cell phones and only a few remember a time when they used dial-up to access Internet. But it is not how they experienced education.

The point I am making is that teachers coming into this profession today are coming from a time when online tools such as blogging, twittering, and networking were not in any way a method of teaching or engagement.

I have included (in the sidebar of this blog) a list of a few student’ teachers who have begun to reflect on their experiences as learners in a 21st century focused classroom. This list has also been grouped with Alec Couros Social Media Mentorship program- (An informal project to build and increase teacher online teacher capacity).

New teachers and pre-service teachers need our attention. Let them see the power of online mentorship and support by welcoming them into your own network and support their tweets and blogs through simple comments, replies and retweets.