I also made a cute little video discussing these 8 traits of an ideal DLC. Take a look!
Searching through different Digital Learning Communities, we all have opinions on what works best and what each forum needs. I definitely formed opinions about the DLC's that I explored! I simplified my list of requirements of the ideal forum into 8 traits.
The Texas Coalition of Essential Schools defines a Digital Learning Community as "a technologically supported classroom where teachers and students use a variety of digital tools to enhance instruction and create an environment conducive to quality communication, creativity, and collaboration" (2016). It sounds like a fancy way of saying an online class, right? In a sense, it could be, but it's amazing to see all of the different online courses available for the general public to take for FREE! Of course there are others that one could pay to participate in (including those that lead to degrees and certification in different professions) but if you are in it for the knowledge alone, there are plenty of options out there! For this assignment, I found 13 digital learning communities that I am personally interested in (a task that, at first, was difficult, but once I found a few, the rest fell into my lap... or, onto my computer screen). Of these 13 DLC's, I have chosen 5 to discuss and have participated in more than one of them!
As a language teacher, I wanted to find something that was along those lines in some way initially, later looking for different topics of personal interest, and finally for information that I felt would be limited in such learning communities. Everyone knows about apps like Duolingo that take students through one computerized lesson after another, and those have merit in language learning (and the learning of other topics) but what we are looking for is a class where one can learn, practice, and assess new knowledge as we can in a learning app, but also communicate and collaborate with classmates. I set out in search of these communities, whereas I am not sure many do the same. I would say that generally, people would need to be directed to such sites; otherwise, they will look for 'how to' information on sites such as eHow or YouTube.
MyHappyPlanet is a Digital Learning Community that met all of the criteria outlined in the above definition. It claims to be a free language learning program where you can also interact with native speakers of the language you are learning via written messages and videos exchanged. Unfortunately, I could not get the site to work for me. As I opted to sign up, the website routed me to an empty page.
I am a little disappointed that I don't get to participate in the DLC; I suppose there could be a server issue, so I will try again later, but for now I have had no luck with this one. Feel free to use the link above and try it out yourself.
Busuu is another language learning program that I found, but I don't see how it is collaborative. So far, I am learning Portuguese, but the interaction is limited to a computerized program. The good news is that you can learn 1 of 12 different language (unless you purchase Premium version, and then you can learn ALL 12!).
edWeb is a Digital Learning Community for educators in general. It is described as a free online community for professional educators, offering networking, resource sharing, collaboration, and professional development webinars. I like the idea, so I joined to see what types of resources the site has to offer. I found 15 different communities specifically for language learning! I was immediately attracted to one of them: Critical Pedagogy for World Languages. Within the community, there are blogs, discussion forums, a resource library, webinar archives, assignments, a help chat room, a shared calendar, polls and quizzes, a wiki, bloglinks, and weblinks. I have already started assignment 1 and contributed in the group discussion forum! I like that these particular communities are set up to be whatever you need them to be. For example, if I don't want to participate in completing assignments, I don't have to, but I am welcome to still participate in the discussions. I can pick and choose what I do and it does hinder what is available to me. Any of the DLC's that I have explored should do better at advertising what they have to offer for maximum participation. I frequent sites that deal with language learning and I never knew that this site existed. As I mentioned before, it is not easy to 'happen' across these sites. Other than that, I would not change a thing from the perspective of the student. I have seen many online courses, and this one is set up in a very user-friendly manner with easy access to all different aspects of the learning community.
I decided to stray from education at this point and move toward some personal interests. With the turn toward technology, I think it is important to use that technology to lessen our dangerous impact on the world. Having said that, the DLC that I found that can help members calculate and reduce their carbon footprint, save money, encourage their friends, and help their companies and organizations go green is MakeMeSustainable. This site will be very interesting to explore!
The last DLC I explored is edX. This DLC interested me because it contains courses from a conglomerate of universities world wide such as Harvard, Berkeley, MIT, Delft Unversity, IIT Bombay, and Seoul National University. Those are just a start! I was amazed that so many institutions would add learning opportunities to the same site! There are over 30 subjects to choose from, including language courses, education courses, and environmental science courses (which covers my interests listed previously).
I would love for you to comment with different DLC's that you have tried and enjoyed; I would also like to try them! As an online learner myself, it is amazing that there is so much learning happening online that I was unaware of! Let's all learn together!
Being an exemplary digital citizen is essential today no matter who you are or what role you play in the online world. Many traits
With that in mind, we can narrow this down to a few points to make sure that we demonstrate only the traits of an exemplary digital citizen.
1. Who do you want to be?
From parents, friends' parents, to future employers and college admissions offices, everyone will view the type of digital citizen that you choose to be. If you portray yourself in a different manner than reality, those that view the online "you" are going to make judgements based on what they see there; we must all be aware of the ideas we leave online about ourselves. Our "online escapades" are not private. Also, remember, once it is online, it is always online. There is no such thing as completely deleting information that we have posted online; that information becomes shared property! Teachers Alliance states the following about our online posts: "Have you heard the saying the “Internet is forever?” You may think you can easily hit delete, and what you sent goes away. But it truly doesn’t. Be aware and learn why the Internet is permanent" (2016).
I always give my students the same piece of advice, whether they are online students or in a brick and mortar building- you are the person you are when no one is watching. Nothing is completely private, so always be the person that you want to BE.
2. Would you sign your name to it?
Along the same lines, there are many ways to post information to the internet anonymously, and in my opinion, there is no reason we should want to leave information without our name posted to it. While we must be very careful and private with our information, we must also remember that we should never post something that does not make us proud enough to sign our name to it. I tell my son this about every day of his life: don't walk away until the job is done so that you feel proud signing your name to it. This is important. Are you embarrassed of it what you have said/done? Is it done to the very best of your ability? Do you mind anyone knowing that you said it/did it? Maybe you would say, "well, I don't mind that my customers see it, but I don't think my boss would like it." Then change it! If you are not proud enough to put your name on it, it is not what you want it to be! And that is not who you want to be!
3. Says who?
Always treat information found on the web with question marks. Look everything up, use multiple different sources. Just because the information is out there, does mean it is true. Being honest is a trait that all people should strive for, and repeating information that is false looks just as bad on you as the source where the information originated. Researching something means questioning everything. As a personal anecdote, my husband always jokes with me when he gives me information that he found online. Hours after he shares something with me, he will ask "What did Google have to say about it?" because he knows that I will check all information. Now, I am not relying on one specific source, but I am always certain to check multiple sources if those sources are unknown to me. If the sources are known, I must consider who they are and their reputation as I come to my own conclusions.
4. Does it feel right?
Many times we have "gut feelings" about situations, and most of the time, we are right. Always think things through, but you know when something feels eery, it's not ok. This can go for anything... communication with people that you do not know, sharing too much personal information, giving out names/information about others, people that know a little more about you than you are comfortable with... there are many circumstances that will leave us with an uneasy feeling, and we should always heed those instincts. Just because it is "just online" does not mean that no harm can come of it. In fact, it is quite the opposite. When something does make you feel uncomfortable the next question you should ask yourself is: What should I do about it? Report it. Tell someone. Copy the interaction and save it. Don't think that just because it is based on only a feeling that it is invalid! At least share the incident with an adult and allow them to pursue it!
Your digital footprint is your legacy. Remember that. Is it what you would want others to think of you? Does it exemplify the person you want to be?
Teachers Alliance (2016). Teachhub.com: 10 Things your students should know about their digital footprints.
Another image I found that incorporates the traits of an exemplary digital citizen is the following: