Tuesday, December 12, 2017

#DigCitNYC 2017

On Saturday I had the opportunity to go to Google in New York City and be a part of their Google Event for Digital Safety and Citizenship.  It was an awesome chance to meet and collaborate with educators, administrators and professionals from all over the country.

Thank you to Connor Reagan for inviting me to the event and setting up an awesome day of connecting and learning.  First up for the day was Stephen Balkam (CEO and Founder of FOSI - Family Online Safety Institute).  Stephen highlighted some of the guides that his team has created including Good Digital Parenting and 7 Steps to Google Parenting.

I loved how Stephen provided the following message to the crowd.  Whether it is for your own kids, you own students, anyone - you have to remember to Acknowledge the Risk of Online Activity, then you must do your best to Mitigate the harms.  However as you do your best with those two monumental tasks - do not forget to Remember the Rewards (there are a TON!!!).

We then got to listen to Eileen Lennon (a middle school technology teacher like myself) explain her more "on the ground" experience with students and digital citizenship.  She reflected on the fact that we have now changed in a very short time what this "citizenship" means - in other words - we were originally worried that our students will find a fake site - and believe it!  (See The Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus)  Now we have made our way down the line where students are expected to understand a LOT.  Checking sources, cyber bullying, phishing attacks, password protection, social media - the list goes on and on.  How does she approach this?  Eileen recommended a lot of awesome resources; BrainPop, Commoncraft, EverFi, Code.org and Interland.  All free online sources of lessons and directions to help our students.

Kerry Gallagher was up next representing Connect Safely.   Kerry found a fundamental flaw in all of these Digital Citizenship worlds - nothing was specifically directed to the teachers.  There was policy for the policy makers, information for the parents, and recommendations for the administration but nothing there for the teachers.  Therefore through Connect Safely Kerry's team has published a ton of guides for educators to use to get the most of out of their online experience.  These resources are there to help!  Maybe not you reading this blog but maybe someone else in your build....

Finally we had a chance to listen Connor talk about his project for the last 2+ years, Interland.  In addition to some cool Chrome facts (20 Million+ Chromebooks in education right now) Connor shared with us the following - and remember this program was only released in June 2017:

- The Be Internet Awesome Program Curriculum has had over 40,000 Downloads
- There have been over 2 Million Unique Users of Interland
- This all equals over 600,000 of hours of Game play in Interland

I had a chance to use Interland with 100+ 7th Graders.  The feel of the game is very high quality.  The four games have a very different feeling - there is something for everyone.  And finally the Curriculum is current, up to date and functional for my students.  We took 4 Days - and 20 Minutes was spent on the Questions from the Curriculum and 25 minutes was spent on the game.  These four days of class were worth every minute.  Check out the infographics my students made after the #BeInternetAwesome unit!

I had an awesome time with Connor and his team and I hope to see Interland and the #BeInternetAwesome team again in the future.