Innovate, Emulate, Duplicate…A Digital Citizenship Discussion

I’ve taught digital citizenship lessons to students for years.  We talk about copyright, Creative Commons, citing the works of others, and giving credit where credit is due.  I’m pretty confident that my former students are cognizant of these concepts as digital citizens.

It’s important to have these conversations (I won’t call them lessons) with educators, too.  Teachers need to model these concepts within their own lessons and their practices.  It’s a common pitfall in the busy lives of educators to quickly grab an image, borrow a quote, or even use an idea without stopping to name the source.  I think it’s a discussion we should just be having more often.

Let’s think about those three words in the title.  Innovate. Emulate. Replicate. As educators, there are times that we use all three, but two of these require some sort of attribution.

I’m using myself as an example.  When I’m innovative, the idea is my own creation.  I don’t need to cite or credit anyone of course, because the innovation was unique.  However, and those of you who truly innovate will understand, we expect others to be good digital citizens when they use, share, emulate, or duplicate our work.

I feel like emulation is the grayest area for many, and it’s important to recognize and discuss.  Two good rules to remember here are:

1)  If you learned something new from someone and then you use it or present it, give ’em credit!

2) If you create something unique that was based on the work or idea of another (you tweaked it), give ’em credit!

There are lots of folks that I emulate.  I created a Digital Badge system for professional development in my district.  I’m proud of it, but the idea was tweaked from lessons I learned from the amazing Laura Fleming (@LFlemingEDU). When I travel and do presentations about my digital badging system, I ALWAYS mention that I got the original idea from Laura.  Every. Single. Time.  Anyone who has ever been to my sessions can attest to it.   She’s not literally cited on my website, but if I present or share and people like my system, it’s so important that I let them know that it was based on the innovative work of Laura.

Similarly, I created a really cool, unique Makerspace in my school.  I EMULATED the ideas of a genius friend of mine named Meredith Martin (@geekyteach).  My model looks very much different than hers now, but I LEARNED the ideas from her that got me started, so her name is a regular part of my Makerspace presentation.  Two years later.  Every. Single. Time.

Last week I gave a presentation in my graduate class. I used Google’s new very cool Q&A tool, which I had just learned about from a tweet by my pal Cathy Chao-Isaacs (@iwearthecrowns).  She didn’t help me create my actual slides, but since I learned that tool from her, I gave her a shoutout when I presented with it.  I will every time I use Q&A.  Cathy gets credit because I’m grateful to her and a better presenter because of that tweet! (It’s nice to tweet out thanks & credit to people, too!)

Let’s talk about duplication.  We all do that, too, from time to time. We use an exact copy, a replica, a duplicate of someone else’s work.  There’s nothing wrong with it. As a matter of fact, it’s often a great time saver & gives us access to unique new tools, sites, activities, and ideas.  Over the past several weeks, I’ve received numerous messages from excellent digital citizens who were asking permission from me.  They wanted to use an infographic that I had created called, “What is A Technology Integration Specialist?”  Although my work isn’t copyrighted, those asking permission did the right thing.  They wanted to use my exact presentation to present to their own districts.  Duplication is cool, but asking first is the rule.

My hope in writing this post was to bring more awareness to the issue for educators.  I’m hoping that if you mention this post to some colleagues, share it at a faculty meeting, or print it out & leave it in the teacher lunchroom, that it will be a great reminder of our obligation to be role models for our students when it comes to citation and attribution.

Oh, and next time your students are doing some presentations for class, spend some time reminding them, too.  We all could benefit from having a reminder from time to time.


Create Make Learn…”Level Up” Awakening


      This post is a reflection on my third of five days at #cml16, or Create Make Learn Summer Institute in Burlington, Vermont.  I am extremely proud, blessed and honored to have been an invited by my brilliant friend Lucie DeLaBrueure (@techsavvygirl) to be a participant of this extraordinary learning community.

       It would honor me tremendously if you took the time to read this short post.

I started the day in a circuitous way (Yeah… that pun was intended!) The #CML16 challenge of having every member at every table learning how to solder left me revealed. I was the only one with no soldering experience. My table 8 team rallied to support me, and the most adorable, sweet, tolerant, forgiving, and definitely PATIENT Sue took me on that tumultuous journey. It was not a short journey. It was a journey filled with molten solder, beads of silver, beads of sweat, unpredictable profanity, and a ceremonious a glorious melding that led to a brilliant green LED light shining as a beacon of success!

The latter part of my morning was also extraordinary.   I attended a session by Kevin Jarrett, who I’m blessed enough to know and learn from on a regular basis. He was so phenomenal, and everyone in the group of learners will attest to that.  Guided by his friendly and welcoming tutelage, those who didn’t even KNOW what Tinkercad WAS were able to create mind-blowing designs within hours!

I’ve gotta be honest – I know how to use Tinkercad.  I’ve played with it.  I’ve taught it to kids.  I’m sorta okay with it.  That is how I am about a lot of things.  I get the gist and I’m ready to roll…but not really…but sorta.   My top secret secret is that I really want to learn more, to be better, to be able to teach others….to LEVEL UP!

Although I know Kevin, we are friends, and I live close to him, this kind of opportunity to just plain LEARN from him doesn’t creep up a lot. Sometimes, you just want to sit in a room and ask your friends questions, watch what they can do, and see tips from someone who is just more thorough. Today was that day for me.  It was a gift, so I purposely didn’t sit in as a participant who would have my OWN questions, but I sat ‘on the fringe’ on a stool in the back so that I could wander and listen and learn from Kevin’s answers to EVERYONE ELSE’s questions. This was EPIC. This was a huge personal learning discovery for me.  This gave me such a learning advantage – I felt like an intern. I hope Kevin reads this. I hope anyone who is a beyond-beginner-as-a-learner gets something from my experience. This was a big A-HA thing for me today!

I have been using Tinkercad for about a year with my students, but I was hoping Kevin could take me to a new level.   He didn’t disappoint.  This was THE most relevant, applicable, and helpful session to me so far. I got so much out of his simple tips & tricks — things like the font tool, grouping, cleaving, proportionally resizing, duplicating, and even renaming a project. These were all “level up” things for me. I walked away from that session SO much more comfortable with using it, but more importantly with teaching it. For my life – for my “next step”, teaching 3d printing is really going to be a big deal. Kevin just gave me some extraordinary tips to make me a better teacher, better maker, and better presenter!

In the afternoon, I went to the session that was supposed to be for elementary-level creation of underwater ROVs.   Holy schmamoleee…what an intense project!  I almost bailed a couple of times when I saw what was involved. There were things SOOOO over my experience level that I literally walked away more than once, but I came back because there were relevant things to learn.  …..Fast forward to the end of the session – I stuck with it and it was HUGE for me!  I learned how to use and cut PVC pipe. Like,  hacksaw cut!  I know what a hacksaw is and how to use a vise to secure it to cut it.  I learned what the heck a hose clamp is (our team had trouble clamping one, and I was the one who figured it out!), I not only learned how to solder today, but I learned an actual APPLICATION for it with this ROV project. II learned about things called Gorilla Tape and bilge pumps and neutral buoyancy, and  – I learned how to strip a wire! Seriously. SERIOUSLY. Seriously.

I was a part f a team of 6 women educators who built an actual underwater Remote Operated Vehicle (ROV). On Friday, we will test its buoyancy and effectiveness at ECHO in Burlington, VT, but for now I can pretty much report that the effectiveness of the whole experience was 100% rewarding! BOOM!

As I told my fellow #makers, even if I never again in my life build an actual submersible, competition-worthy submersible ROV, I have learned so many, so very many sub-skills that will lead me and enable me on diverse maker journeys in the new year…..and beyond! For me, this is a week to keep leveling up. After today, I figured that out. “Build New” is absolutely a craving of mine, but “Level Up” is where I’m achieving the most success. I think I’ll continue down that road.