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a letter to COVID

May 27, 2021

Dear COVID,

It has been over 14 months since you first came to visit. Since then, you have single-handedly forced us into a global pandemic. As I sit here writing this letter, I think about how uncomfortable and complex you have made our lives.  Without warning, you’ve challenged me and others to juggle unfamiliar levels of uncertainty. Challenging me and others with ambiguity and disquiet with no warnings. 

You have no regard for who each one of us is. The intensity of your presence is felt by me, family, friends,colleagues, everyone. What scares me is your silence. Your unpredictability.  That tenacious, invisible presence. I hear so much about you daily. I try to make sense of the absurd, and the fear: conspiracies, manipulations, divisions.  I’m not sure what is what anymore. 

Photo John Mikton

You have left me confused and I am doing my best to navigate your presence.  With hesitation, I keep looking at my social media feeds to help me understand the latest post about you. But the curated content makes me unsure of what is true, and what is a lie. Apparently the lie is true, but then I am told the truth is a lie. It’s so hard to wrap my head around it 

I have shed many tears -more than I care to admit.  It is the death, the pain, the  relentless suffering you cause that hurts most.  As you continue to show up unabated,I am humbled by all who care day and night, unselfishly, for those who have succumbed to you. The numbers are an uncomfortable, exponential statistic. Our arrogance with time and the little remorse you share in the limbo of the day. You are harsh!

You came right into my school without asking. You fell on us all, in the city, in the country, and you scared us into a lock down. My class and I avoided you the best we could with social distancing, disinfectants and curfews. My class flipped to emergency learning, tried working online, then moved to a hybrid. I looked up and suddenly we were all in each others’ homes, living rooms, and kitchens. I spent hours, coffee mug in hand, late at night, adjusting, redesigning my lessons. I would get memos from the building Principal saying it wasn’t enough, her expectations constantly changing as a disgruntled Board Member breathed down her inbox. I taught my class about “Zoom Fatigue” synchronously and asynchronously, and still a parent emailed me in ALL CAPS about learning loss. 

Even though you kept coming back in waves, I did find a sliver of time to pause. It was a minute. I looked around. I could hear the sighs of my colleagues,and suddenly the invisible became visible. Why do we have 16 tests for this grade? Should I even do this online? Flipgrid or padlet? I recognized that  well being is about more than a bottle of wine with Netflix. I saw friends anxious, alone, and sad trying to connect to something real, something tangible. . My credit card spent more time online than in my wallet. Constant change, in all shapes and forms, is the new normal. Everyday, I got creative and convinced myself to be positive and hopeful.  I threw away my old box of lessons and leaned on my PLN for inspiration in breakout rooms. I took another pause, found more time to listen and learn. My class raised their hands and whispered through their masks  “voice and choice.” I played with the idea, it felt right – why would I go back to the past?

I’m not sure what your plans are now, or how much longer you’ll be around. But I will turn the page, because I know looking back makes little sense. I will start at zero and forget the past as much as I can. So much I have learned, so much I can do better at, so much is far more important than I ever imagined. You gave me a moment to think about balance, respect, dignity, community. Okay I get it, this is not your last visit. I will not ignore things anymore: the hurricanes, the droughts, and floods. I am not going to ask you for details, or even predict the best next step. I realise where we are, and where I need to go. 

I am not sure why I am even writing all this to you, but in the unexpected manner your visit fell on us all, I realise now we cannot continue the way we have been. This is clear to me and I understand this.We don’t have a choice. So now, as I finish this letter, it is up to me to step up and reimagine tomorrow anew.

Your sincerely,

Professional Development pivots to virtual

April 29, 2021

In this podcast Dan Taylor 🌐and I explore professional learning, professional conferences, and pivoting to virtual learning opportunities with guest Nancy Squicciarini Head of Community Relations what are the creative challenges and opportunities facilitating professional development in schools and education organizations when moving online https://www.theinternationalschoolspodcast.com/e/nancy-squicciarni-head-of-community-relations-at-the-international-school-of-luxembourg/

a conversation “Well-being in the time of COVID.”

February 20, 2021

Well-being has been an important part of our respective experience living and juggling the uncertainty of managing the Global Pandemic COVID19. The pandemic has for many created new stresses as part of the day, that are ambiguous, at times volatile with uncertainty. Carlos Davidovich and I explore the creative challenges of living during the COVID pandemic and how we each manage the challenges of the pandemic differently. Carlos shares his expertise on Neuro-management on known understandings of how the brain works and how we might consider understanding Well-being in this context. This recording is with video as we both prepare for a live session April 1, 2021 to support colleague and friend Nancy Lhoest-Squicciarini who hosts monthly the International School of Luxembourg Virtual Learning Lofts (#ISLLoft) which I have the privileged to co-facilitate with Nancy sometimes.

Dr. Carlos Davidovich Executive & Performance Coach – Neuromanagement Expert – Speaker


Online Learning – What Does The Research Say?

December 21, 2020

Every month as the Head of Education and Media Technology @ ISL, the IT Library team hosts virtual digital life series focused on an aspect of digital life that we all juggle at work and home. These digital life series facilitated by the librarians, digital learning coaches or myself. In this session I unpack some of the research regarding online learning and how schools are engaging with this.

Beyond Screens: Managing the Screen Time Dilemma

October 29, 2020

I am here sharing from a series by the IT Library Department colleagues called Digital Life a series for parents. This a concept managed and hosted by colleague Nancy and the Communications team. This session we explore and focus on screen time and some of the dilemmas we all juggle both parents, student and staff. All credit, resources, and inspiration goes to https://tacticaltech.org/#/ and https://datadetoxkit.org/en/home who over the last couple years have been an outstanding resource, and guide for a lot of the work I get to facilitate with colleagues at school. In this session I share what are the different types of screen times and some ideas on exploring strategies to consider.

Conversations during the COVID pandemic

August 30, 2020

During the COVID pandemic I have had the privilege to share out with different organizations and education leaders some reflections and learning from my own experiences as a school leader, head of education technology and media, and an educator in international schools. For me I find the process of talking and sharing with other leaders, educators and organizations a learning and becomes a point for reflection. As we all continue to juggle the complexities of a global pandemic, through these reflections and conversations there are new opportunities and creative challenges which I believe has initiated a growing common understanding of the importance of change in education.

With Carlos Davidovich on “Wellbeing in the time of COVID.” In a conversation we explore wellbeing in a time of COVID and how the brain reacts to the creative challenges of wellbeing during a pandemic which we all are juggling in different ways.

Coronavirus Chronicles 017 – International School of Luxembourg a conversation with Scott McLeod

10-minute check-ins with schools during the 2020-21 global pandemic

Our colleagues in international schools around the world learn things every day about how leadership really works. Pearls of Wisdom is one of the PTC’s ways of sharing that learning. Here I had the opportunity to share some learning on digital literacy in the context of education and schools.

A Look Inside Teaching and Learning (during a pandemic) with Kim House and Finaliste:

Finaliste: A Look Inside Teaching and Learning: How to Better Market Your School

International Education Solutions – IES interview with Richard Gaskill Co-Founder and CEO of IES


How To Streamline Virtual School And Communications With Finalsite And Google Guest appearance with Finaliste

A summer reflection: Harnessing Digital Literacy

August 1, 2020

With the unprecedented experience of COVID19 that we all have juggled over the last months, and the complexities we all are living with today, our days have been intense. As part of the Pearl of Wisdom protocol of the Principal Training Center, I, as a trainer at the PTC reflected on my own experience as an education leader working and facilitating with digital literacy and fluency in an international school setting and navigating the dynamics of the COVID19 pandemic. A 20 minute share out.

Digital Citizenship to Digital Fluency

January 4, 2020
Alzette River. photo J. Mikton

2020 is an opportunity for schools to re-explore their relationship to digital citizenship. The growing erosion of our privacy as well as our amplified cohabitation with Artificial Intelligence (AI) present us with new challenges. 

We are tracked 24/7 with digital ecosystem grids which have become seamless and frictionless parts of our daily routines. In (The Age of Surveillance Capitalism), Shoshana Zuboff describes this process of tracking. She calls the information that makes up these digital ecosystem grids “behavior surplus“. Behavior surplus is the personal data that we leave on our devices and give away daily based on a mutual agreement (user agreements) between the digital companies and us. These agreements (when is the last time you read a user agreement?) give permission for our behaviors online/offline to be tracked, collected, monitored and analyzed by companies and in some cases governments at will. The purpose of “surveillance capitalism”  is to leverage this “behavior surplus” to mitigate the uncertainty of our desires and to better predict what we will do. This is then turned into a profitable commodity. The value of our “behavior surplus” is unprecedented and the raw material of human data is fueling the engines of innovation, economics, politics and power.

Over the past few years, AI has had a growing impact on our lives, more often than we realise. Daily, it seems we develop a growing dependency on this cohabitation with AI: be it our GPS, HomeAssistant, iRobot vacuum cleaner, Health Device, DatingApps, SmartWatch, or SmartTV.  For our students, this seamless integration of AI into our lives often comes as a frictionless change. Tik Tok is a great example of this – a social media platform with sophisticated AI and unprecedented tracking algorithms, which in a short time added 1 billion users. Overnight, Tik Tok become a teen favorite and serious competition to Snapchat and Instagram.  For many educators, new digital consumables are embraced with hesitancy but somehow often the convenience is enticing enough for us to succumb to the charm of the “smart” and “wifi“ ready products.

I have worked with groups of educators and students to build a series of lessons around ARTE’s Do Not Track  in order to highlight the complexity and intricacies of how we are tracked. The different episodes are thoughtfully constructed with interactive components breaking down the erosion of privacy. I am surprised how often a percentage of students confidently express their indifference with this erosion of privacy and its implications. In some ways this makes sense. If the current privacy landscape is the sole point of reference, the current state of privacy is interpreted as normal. In comparison, educators interacting with ARTE’s Do Not Track respond with far more anxious discomfort as for many this erosion is compared to experiences where individuals felt greater control over their privacy. As we re-explore digital citizenship, we need to take these varying perspectives into consideration.

The fact is that most of our students are highly proficient digital consumers and not digital natives. The same goes for many educators in general. If we think of our own interactions with digital environments, it’s very likely that most of our time is focused on consumption.

We need to consider re-framing how we support educators and students in a school setting away from a sole focus on digital citizenship to a broader focus on digital fluency. This requires us to develop an approach where the focus is on developing purposeful connections to our digital ecosystems with the goal of becoming ethical digital creators of content. 

The concept and idea behind digital fluency is built on the work of the DQ Institute and its well thought out DQ Framework and the 8 digital intelligences. Digital fluency is facilitating an approach where learning opportunities are constructed around the natural connections of our day to day lives with these 8 digital intelligences. The important aspect of this focus is not excluding other essential learning in the curriculum. To make this meaningful, digital fluency needs to have clear connection points to personal experience, ensure these connection points are purposeful, and build on the learning already taking place in a school’s curriculum. 

The above graph is one sample of several surveys done with middle school students asking them what areas of the DQ Framework they would like to learn and focus on. Interestingly, there was a clear pattern across several groups for Digital Safety as the highest priority (from the DQ Competencies.)

An important aspect of this is allowing student voice to actively guide the design of these digital fluency connections. They are identifying valuable needs and ensuring this open communication is key to making this shift meaningful to them.

Here are some examples of what digital fluency could look like, and what some schools are already actively creating. One example is giving high school students a LinkedIn account and spending time supporting what it means to have a public profile and how to curate a positive digital footprint compared to a personal social media footprint. Other schools are creating blended courses for parents on how to understand the difference between the pedagogic use of digital devices in schools and the challenges of a more open ended environment of digital device use outside of school in the home. Another example is having students develop public service announcements regarding malware and then coaching younger students on how to identify phishing emails and how to manage an antivirus app. Another is walking through the architecture of effective password creation and developing sustainable strategies to ensure a solid level of security in the students personal lives as a podcast. Or having students coach their parents through the privacy and security settings of their favorite app and create a how-to help screencast.

It is through these activities that participants build on a set of dispositions, skills and knowledge where they feel a sense of autonomy in addressing the complexities, challenges and opportunities of the digital ecosystems we are so intimately connected to. 

The new decade at our doorstep will be intrinsically connected to cohabitation with AI and a dilution of the autonomy we have with our privacy. Scaffolding digital fluency as an essential part of learning provides a guide for students to shift their energies away from being passive digital consumers. Digital fluency provides a mindset to better understand the importance of the ethical responsibilities of digital creation and the implications of the digital ecosystems which permeate our lives, both visible and invisible. Ignoring this will just amplify a society of passive digital consumers, while eroding our free will.

John@beyonddigital.org

Sources-References

The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power by Shoshana Zuboff.” Goodreads, Goodreads, 15 Jan. 2019, https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26195941-the-age-of-surveillance-capitalism
Asthana, Anushka, et al. “The Strange World of TikTok: Viral Videos and Chinese Censorship – Podcast.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 7 Oct. 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/technology/audio/2019/oct/07/strange-world-tiktok-viral-videos-chinese-censorship
Written by Yuhyun Park, Founder and Chief Executive Officer. “8 Digital Skills We Must Teach Our Children.” World Economic Forum, www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/06/8-digital-skills-we-must-teach-our-children/.
DQ Framework: “What Is the DQ Framework?” DQ Institute, http://www.dqinstitute.org/dq-framework/.
“Coalition for Digital Intelligence.” Coalition for Digital Intelligence, www.coalitionfordigitalintelligence

a reflection….looking back.

June 16, 2019

Good friend Dan @DanTaylorEvents from https://appsevents.com/ kindly invited me to participate in the first episode of The International Schools Podcast , we catch up, and I share my journey as an International Educator and discuss Digital Citizenship, creative tensions of engaging with this in the home and school.

sharing some reflections with Dan on the launch of his new podcast.

Privacy: General Data Protection Regulation and European International Schools

April 9, 2018

Jökulsárlón, Eastern Iceland

On May 25th 2018 the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)  will come into full swing in the European Union as law, focused on individual privacy and access/use of personal information of European Union citizens. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a new set of rules governing the privacy and security of personal data laid down by the European Commission which impacts all European Union’s (EU) organization both commercial and non commercial (non-profit) and foreign companies and organizations which handle European Union citizens personal data. The objective of bringing this regulation into law across the EU is in reaction to significant changes with the digitization of information and the growing power of algorithms used by large corporations in analysing and using personal data for commercial use. The General Data Protection Regulation has been designed to give a greater level of control to EU citizens over how their data is processed and used by companies and organizations.

For European International Schools GDPR is an important regulation that schools are working to become complaint. The GDPR  requires European International Schools to ensure that all schoolwide processes, producers, and policies with personal data of staff, faculty, parents and students are complaint with the GDPR regulation.

Local government authorities enforcing the GDPR could potentially give out fines if organization do not  comply to the GDPR.

There are three areas that European International Schools have to focus on for the GDPR :Governance ⅓, Data Protection ⅓ and Cyber Security ⅓.  Schools need to show that they are working toward compliance in all three areas and ensure that any personal data they process is handled and stored securely. The focus is on mitigating the risk of personal data not being properly safeguarded. The GDPR extends to those organizations, companies, and services which European International Schools use for different services or resources in and outside of school  Under the GDPR schools will be responsible to ensure these organization which might be accessing community members personal data are complaint with GDPR.

There is no doubt this new regulation brings about a lot work forEuropean International Schools as they review, and analysis their current status and enhance procedures, process and policies to be compliant with the GDPR.

This summer as many European International Schools realized the importance of this new regulation and in tandem understanding the extensive work needed to be done the International School of Brussels created a GDPR International Schools working group in an effort to share expertise and resource.  In this GDPR working group over 45+ European International Schools are currently sharing and collaborating both virtually and in person. There have been two meetings hosted by the International School of Brussels on their campus in Brussels this fall and spring. 45+ European International Schools came together with representatives from school Leadership teams,  IT Departments, and Administrators to work to support each other. In tandem the Brussels GDPR International Schools working group has been supported by 9ine consulting https://www.9ine.uk.com/ who are working with quite a few European International schools as consultants/experts on GDPR compliance in a school setting.

It is evident that working towards General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is very time consuming workflow, and the process requires whole school communities to consider enhancing or implementing new process, procedures and policies related to personal data used on and off campus. This workflow is requiring schools to look at all the daily process and procedures we often take for granted where personal data is being used, access and shared. One actually does not realize the magnitude of ways we work with school community members personal data in and out of school. This process is bringing this to light for many schools.

Below are good resources to support a further understanding of the GDPR

GDPR International  Schools work group (a Google group started by the International School of Brussels)

https://groups.google.com/a/isb.be/forum/?utm_source=digest&utm_medium=email#!forum/gdpr-international-2016-17/topics or email to request to join <gdpr-international-2016-17@isb.be>

Official EU Home page of the GDPR: https://www.eugdpr.org/

Preparing for GDPR in schools:

https://www.gdpr.school/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Preparing-for-GDPR-in-schools.pdf

9ine Consulting Blog: http://www.9ine.uk.com/newsblog/topic/gdpr

Introduction to General Data Protection Regulation(GDPR): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n5WJOncaHt4

A Summary of EU General Data Protection: https://www.dataiq.co.uk/blog/summary-eu-general-data-protection-regulation

 

Bibliography

Burgess, Matt. “What Is GDPR? WIRED Explains What You Need to Know.” WIRED, WIRED UK, 6 Feb. 2018, http://www.wired.co.uk/article/what-is-gdpr-uk-eu-legislation-compliance-summary-fines-2018.

Consulting, 9ine. “9ine Consulting | Blog – 9ine Consulting | GDPR.” 9ine, http://www.9ine.uk.com/newsblog/topic/gdpr.

“Home Page of EU GDPR.” EU GDPR Portal, http://www.eugdpr.org/.

“Introduction to General Data Protection Regulation(GDPR).” YouTube, YouTube, 22 Apr. 2017, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n5WJOncaHt4.

https://www.5874.co.uk, 5874 Design -. “Preparing for the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) – 10 Steps for Schools.” Harrison Clark Rickerbys, http://www.hcrlaw.com/preparing-general-data-protection-regulation-gdpr-10-steps-schools/.

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