Being Internet Awesome?

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Copyrighting Practices

When contemplating the role of educational leaders in the arena of laws and uses of copyrights, I was reminded of Taylor Good’s blog post pertaining to the moral imperative of educators which boiled down to practicing what you preach. Educational leaders want teachers to produce engaging lessons, they should be held accountable to provide engaging professional development. Educational leaders want teachers to be internet awesome, they should be internet awesome themselves. I think this means embracing what teachers like using, for example, Twitter, and using it as a platform for communication but also provide boundaries for acceptable use. This may mean finding a balance between self-expression and potential consequences. If we expect our teachers to communicate this to our students, educational leaders are expected to communicate this to their staff and the best way is to lead by example. This could take the shape of appropriately sharing or citing materials given to staff to the production of the school’s websites, or even creating a creative commons license (check out the footer and create your own).

Dr. Price-Dennis believes it is imperative to raise “awareness of (teachers’) own digital literacy skills so they can prepare students for meaningful participation in complex digital spaces” (Deady, 2017). I believe it is safe to say that a lot of teachers omit or do not completely understand copyrights. I didn’t fully understand it until I took a course en route to a Masters in Classroom Technology. has created an extensive flowchart to help with this process. This is a case of technology moving faster than education which lends itself to gaps in understanding and learning. Just as a teacher moving too fast through a lesson that results in student confusion, technology has passed many teachers, classrooms, and schools and they are now playing catch-up (hopefully). This happens to both the students and teachers as technology has placed the cart before the horse.

Nevertheless, this falls on school leaders to ensure that this awareness is built into curriculums at the appropriate levels but not only for students but also teachers. Resources like can help with this process. Encourage teachers to take responsibility for their own learning by attending seminars, report findings to staff via blogging, emails, faculty meetings, and even enrolling in online PD courses such as Dr. Price-Dennis’ Digital Learning for the K-8 Classroom. This should be an ongoing learning process as students’ and teachers’ skills continue to be fine-tuned. As teachers and students go from using materials to creating materials, it is important to understand their rights as creators. This should be achieved if they truly understand the copyright process of taking an idea to a tangible form.

My Experiences

Personally, I have little experience with privacy policies and regulations for technology use in my school. I recall from other classes having to review our technology policy which I did again for this post but a larger concern is the integration of technology in our district. Our school still has a ban on cell phones in the classroom and staff members are discouraged to use email as a means to communicate with parents. Though we are as a school using Google Suites, some features are disabled for students including Gmail, Google Hangout, and Google Sites. This may sound archaic, but we do not have any technology course for students K-6. Elementary schools have computer labs but the use and instruction are left solely to the classroom teacher. Cell phones are shunned in classrooms K-8 and I can’t speak on behalf of how cell phones are used in the high school besides Snapchatting. It is certainly a disservice to students.

I take it upon myself to have a discussion of being internet smart when it comes to selecting screen names for online learning platforms such as Kahoot or Quizzizz. I give a presentation on appropriate classroom communications with teachers and students but that is it. Our middle school technology course resembles more closely of that of a keyboarding class.

Protecting the Youth

“While it has the potential to deliver immense value, our online world also comes with inherent risks, particularly for children. The truth is, while younger generations are being labeled as digital natives when it comes to safety they are often no more literate than their parents”( Digital literacy skills are not innate even though many students have had a screen in front since birth (yikes!). So there is a place for the 4C’s to engage safety and responsibility with technology (Dowd, 2017). We need to think critically and evaluate the sources and the news that comes across the user’s screens. Fake news is more than just a cliché or State Farm commercial but is a troubling epidemic. In addition, there should be a chance for creativity as students are given the opportunity to create original content that can be published. With the power of social media, students are communicating via posts and multimedia and do not understand the ramifications of that power. “Communicating responsible is an essential 21st Century skill” (Dowd, 2017).

These communications should not be limited to their classrooms but can be encouraged on a global level. This leads to making meaningful connections with others all over the world. When students can communicate safely and responsibly, it can lead to powerful collaborations that can finds answers to real-world problems or enhance their own work like in the shape of quadblogging. It may be tough but there is a responsibility to our society to properly educate students so they can be safe on the internet and our districts should be role models in the pursuit of being “internet awesome.”


  1. Hi Ralph! Great post. I agree that teaching copyright can be challenging especially for teachers who are only learning it for themselves. This website you offered, sounds like a great resource. I also looked into that was referenced by Sheninger and checked it out. This site also has lessons for educators. You can also use it as a resource for parents as well if you just give them the link It's helpful to parents too because it gives a lot of information about appropriate apps, movies, videos, and more.

  2. Laurie, great idea getting trying to get the community involved in the efforts of being copyright mindful!

  3. Ralph,

    I honestly had to look back to see if I posted my Blog on your page! I too took the “Be Awesome” approach to design my Blog because I thought it was an incredible approach to helping our students. When looking for ideas of teaching digital citizenship Common Sense Digital Education ( is my favorite. Not only can you sign up for free for the lesson, scope, information, etc. but you also can get your kids online and playing interactive games. Also… they moved away from Flash so iPads can use it (woo hoo)! Another great way to utilize Common Sense is through Nearpod. It has premade interactive Nearpods (slides on steroids) to help the kids move at their own pace or as a group. Overall, it’s important to be proactive in helping our students learn how to be good digital citizens in order to get the most out of their learning experience and set them up for a positive future with little online consequences.

    *Side note: Thanks for the S/O and love the State Farm commercial link!

  4. Hi Ralph,

    Interesting blog that you wrote. I found it very insightful while reading your blog to see how many sources you referenced and articles you reviewed about teaching using online resources. You seem pretty passionate about the topic of using online resources in the classroom. The importance of being purposeful about using online resources to refine teaching and learning was another point made to compel readers like me to more fully explore online resources to further engage students.

    I couldn’t agree more with you about the importance of teachers and other professionals crediting others for the work they reviewed, referenced and/or expanded upon. The appropriate citing of works referenced by professionals along with classroom discussions for why we need to cite others’ work can only serve to be a positive benefit and trickle down and influence the students need to appropriately credit others for their work. Ralph, what tools do you currently have in place or would you suggest that I further explore to ensure that plagiarizing is not occurring and that copyright laws are being protected in schools? Any specific tools you used successfully would be worth the time I would invest to further explore.

    I too share your sentiments about the lack of experience with privacy policies and regulations for technology in your school district. I first felt really concerned that I was pretty unaware of the various acts and laws covered in Unit 5. I actually reflected further after reading the unit and asked myself, is my naiveté with these laws and acts more my fault or is it the responsibility of the school district to inform me of these acts, laws and regulations. I am leaning toward how we have to accept responsibility for staying current in our own field but also, I do feel that the district has a level of ownership and responsibility for sharing the information and updating staff about new laws or changes in regulations. What do you think?

    I can’t tell you how awesome it is that you take it upon yourself to have discussions with your classes about online safety. How have your discussions gone with classmates, teachers and ultimately students? Have you had any negative experiences while using online platforms such as Blackboard in your classes? If so, what steps did you take to address the negative experiences? I have facilitated a Blackboard open forum numerous times this school year and had a few students early on make some poor choices in terms of language and online interactions with each other; this is something that is certainly worrisome when encouraging online discussions in the future with students, especially middle or high school students.

  5. Sean, I hate to take the cheap way out on this response but I think it is the responsibility of both the educator and school to stay current with school law and changes in regulations. A concern is how fast and often these laws/regulations are being bestowed but growing your PLN should certainly help keep everyone up to date. School leaders that can do this will then be able to effortlessly pass on information as it comes through.

    I have not had any negative experiences with any online platforms (I've been using Google Classroom) in my classroom but that isn't saying that it won't happen either. Don't let a few poor decisions by a few students change your outlook on technology integration. I simply remind students that if you wouldn't say it in front of me, then it's not a good idea to post it. If you are unsure whether or not to hit send/submit because of the content of your material, then you shouldn't. Simply ideas but it is hard to get adolescents take the time to reflect on their cyber interactions because they've grown accustomed to it.


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