Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Beat The Rush; A Domain Name For Every Student Offers Great Value



...tomorrow's adults will need an online home that they control. They need an online home, a place where they tell the world who they are and what they've done, where they post their own work, or at least some of it. Dan Gillmor






The California Gold Rush began on January 24,1848, when James Marshall struck gold at Sutter's Mill. A mix of good and bad, the "Forty-Niners" accelerated development of the western United States. 

At noon on April 22nd,1889, fifty thousand settlers charged into Oklahoma to each stake their claim of 160 acres of unassigned free land. The lack of civil authority invited thousands of settlers, "Sooners", to stake out prime parcels in advance of the official Oklahoma Land Rush. Once again, a mixture of good and bad policy, but the event forever impacted westward expansion in the United States.

Today, there is another rush to acquiring space and value, and it is occurring on the Internet. Those people not staking their claim could find themselves out in the cold wishing they would have registered an Internet domain name while they are inexpensive and readily available.

George Couros, in a recent post, says there are three things students should have before they leave high school; a personal learning network, a digital portfolio, and an About.me page. Although a bit incomplete, I am enthusiastically supportive of George's list. However, Audrey Watters stretched my thinking by recommending each student "own their own registered domain instead of relying on a third-party provider." It was her suggestion in the comments section of George's post that prompted me to register domain names for my sons using the recently introduced, Google Domains.

Will Richardson, during his ISTE 2012 Ignite presentation, "20 Bold Ideas For Change", recommended every student become well Googled by high school graduation. For approximately one dollar per month, a registered domain name will provide the opportunity for each student pursue this worthy goal of creating a positive digital footprint.

Deep Thinking Opportunity:  At what point does the value of a positive digital footprint exceed the value of a high school or college diploma?


Here are several additional reasons why purchasing a domain name for every student provides substantially more, and longer lasting, value than purchasing iPads, Chromebooks, or Surface Tablets.

  1. As the world, and school, becomes increasingly more digital, where will students archive the mementos of their learning? Where will they share their stories?  A domain name, FirstnameLastname.com, can be their cloud-based, three-ring binder for displaying their educational growth.
  2. Registering a domain name helps students establish and protect their online identities. Students are more likely to make sound decisions when they have invested thoughtfully, and shared transparently with an authentic audience.
  3. Whether providing residence for a blog, website, or digital portfolio, a domain name helps students display their learning, and their competencies, in an easy-to-find, personal way.
  4. Registering a domain name allows students to take ownership, and more importantly, responsibility for their name. The age of the paper resume has passed. A registered domain name allows recruiters to easily find and evaluate what has been shared. For the learner, this raises the performance and accountability stakes in ways standardized tests can't.


Don't leave it to Google to decide what people see when they search for you. - Harry Guinness



It's reasonably clear to see the social and economic value of owning a domain name. The traditional concepts of school and education need to be stretched, hammered, and shaped to allow a clearer vision of the educational value of every student building a digital presence grounded in their own domain name. With the justification (why) spelled out, purchasing and establishing a personal domain name is fairly intuitive, particularly with a simple, one-click does it all product like Google Domains. The resources below will help explain how students can get started in establishing their own digital presence.

I think schools and districts would find great educational value in purchasing domain names for all of their students. Do you agree? Does your school or district purchase domain names for your students? If so, I would enjoy hearing how it's working out. As always, your suggestions and questions are welcome in the comments section.


Related Resources


Why Everyone Should Register A Domain Name - The Guardian, Dan Gillmor

Do You Own Your Kid's Domain Name? - Hover, Sarah Georges

Why It's Worth It To Purchase Your Own Domain Name - Lifehacker,  Harry Guinness

How To Register Your Own Domain Name - PC World, Michael King


photo credit: 20120707_175408 via photopin (license)

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Students As Entrepreneurial Learners


em*ploy*ee  
noun

: a person who works for another person or for a company for wages, salary, or some other form of compensation

en*tre*pre*neur  noun

: one who organizes, manages, and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise




"How do you constantly look around you, all the time, for new ways, and new resources, to learn new things?" - John Seely Brown

Heutagogy is the study and application of self-determined learning. Rather than merely improving or reframing education, Jon Andrews explains that an entrepreneurial mindset is necessary to transform education "into a complete experience and preparation for the world today, as well as, for an uncertain future." (1)

World renowned scholar, Yong Zhao, states, "Traditional schooling aims to prepare employees rather than creative entrepreneurs. As a result, the more successful traditional schooling is (often measured by test scores in a few subjects), the more it stifles creativity and the entrepreneurial spirit." (2) 



Why is entrepreneurial learning relevant? 


With a skill half-life of only several years, it will become increasingly essential for people to reinvent themselves, and acquire new skill sets, for economic and social sustainability. Zhao differentiates employment-oriented education from entrepreneur-oriented education by contrasting employable skills versus enhanced human talents. 









Sometimes framed as informal or personal learning, entrepreneurial learning challenges schools to move from content transfer to participatory education models. The network age in which we live provides infinite information and learning possibilities, but what does entrepreneurial learning look like in formal learning institutions, schools?
  • Students, with the help of a mentor, plan, organize, manage, measure, and reflect upon their learning.
  • Teachers, also entrepreneurial learners, provide cross-curricular mentorship to students.
  • Connecting and networking helps shift learning from content-based, to context-based experiences.
  • Making and tinkering reinforces creativity, persistence, collaboration, and problem-solving.
  • All learners use portfolios for journals, reflecting, documenting, and sharing.
  • Project-based/problem-based education provides the foundation for authenticity in learning and assessment.
  • Curriculum and assessment are flexible and negotiated between mentor and learner.
  • The learner defines and manages the educational pathways.
  • The learner asks the key questions that drive inquiry and discovery.

Examples of Schools Featuring Entrepreneurial Learning


There are undoubtedly other shining examples of schools featuring entrepreneurial learning. Please share your examples in the comment section below. Thank you to Terry Heick at TeachThought for sharing this terrific video highlighting entrepreneurial learning.




(1) Experiences in Self-Determined Learning, L.M Blaschke, C. Kenyon, & S. Hase

(2) World Class Learners: Educating Creative & Entrepreneurial Learners, Yong Zhao



photo credit: Nathan Wind as Cochese via photopin cc

Monday, January 12, 2015

Digital Contribution vs. Digital Citizenship

Last week's frigid weather not only prompted many school closings, it prompted some students to take to social media in a negative way. The reaction to the negative messages was swift and predictable with teachers, administrators, and parents calling for digital citizenship training programs. A common popular analogy suggests young drivers take coursework and an assessment before obtaining a license to legally drive. Shouldn't similar steps be taken before people put their reputations and futures at risk from ill-advised sharing on social media? 

"We need to look beyond the scary stats and help kids start thinking about the things they want to share with their families, with their classrooms, or with a larger audience." - Alec Couros

With the stakes being so high, it's hard to argue against teaching young people about responsible use and proper etiquette when using digital tools and social media. However, I would like to suggest another way. Educators should model, enable opportunities, and guide students in the ways of becoming digital contributors to learning. Here are three reasons why digital contribution trumps digital citizenship;

  1. Digital citizenship assumes a minimum standard. Learners can move beyond consumption of rules and regulations by sharing processes and creating products that contribute to a worldwide knowledge base. Teachers who model and guide digital contributions are raising expectations and going beyond the minimum standard. Digital contributors are developing the habits of relationship building, growth mindset, and lifelong learning.
  2. Digital contributors are taking ownership of their digital footprint. Self-publishing and entrepreneurial learning will increasingly gain prominence in a web 3.0 environment. People who conscientiously share their learning are building followings and reputations worth protecting. Naturally, digital contributors are less likely to risk damage to their work with dishonest or distasteful posts.
  3. Digital contributors are assigning purpose to their sharing activity by feeding and supporting the learning of others. Digital contributors are inviting learning relationships through conversation and the sharing of perspective. Digital contributors extend learning beyond the walls and schedules of the traditional classroom. Deeper and richer learning is the result of digital contributions. Digital contributors quickly learn the meaning of the phrase, "give more, get more". 



So, how does one become a digital contributor to learning? Engaging in Twitter chats, creating and sharing video and slide show presentations, and posting to blogs are popular ways for learners to share their knowledge and experiences. Digital portfolios are quickly becoming an essential component of writing and sharing to authentic audiences. Learners of any age can share processes, reflections, and products of their learning in a digital portfolio. Longitudinal tracking of progress make portfolios a powerful tool for sharing learning stories. (5 Reasons Your Portfolio Should Be A Blog - George Couros)

I am not opposed to the goals of students learning about, and living as, good digital citizens. However, too often the digital citizenship lessons involve someone telling someone else the rights and wrongs of social media use. Wouldn't it be better to provide students with an authentic canvas to share their learning? Raising expectations, modeling best practices, and building a positive network presence are better ways of helping young people make good choices when sharing online.


Does digital contribution trump digital citizenship?

How are you and your students contributing to the learning of others?


Related Learning Resources




Students as Meaningful Contributors - Langwitches Blog, Silvia Tolisano



photo credit: Remko van Dokkum via photopin cc