Digital Citizenship

As a frequent presenter and speaker on digital citizenship, I feel it is critical to presented a balanced and considered perspective.

Its easy, particularly when presented with a captive audience, to place undue emphasis on the darker side of out digital lives. The media abounds with horror stories and tragedies, of mis-adventure and mis-direction, crime and punishment, but this is what sells papers and magazines and attracts readers/viewers. Seldom do you see the predominant reality of our digital world, people getting on with their day to day activities, be these business or leisure.

Standing up and preaching about the dangers and risks is easy, often captivating and grabs attention. Its simple to find the latest disasters and use these to highlight the pitfalls and traps that are present. Shock and awe does make for a good presentation, but to focus on the negative or exaggerate the risks is to lose the opportunity for learning. You don’t want to see teachers, parents or others in a fit of fervor banning all technology use because of perceived risks and dangers.

Its critical that we provide a balanced perspective and provide mechanisms and processes that provide guidance and support. Short term solutions like blocking, banning etc are ignoring the underlying issues of digital citizenship. While they will stop or limit the incidence or occurrence of  either inappropriate action or damage, they do little to prepare people for a world beyond the walled garden we have created.

It is only by changing behaviours and understanding, that real change can be made. It is only by changing these that we can make a sustained, hopefully life long, difference.

Rules don’t work

Too many people have fallen in to the trap of setting rules in an attempt to provide a safe environment. Definitive statements have a very limited life expectancy, they are often out of date before they are written. The rapid evolution of the web, of social media and technology means that statements specify medium or technologies are soon obsolete.

However, behaviors and actions are timeless. Change and adapt these and you provide a safe foundation for activity, learning and recreation in a dynamic world.

Want some Ideas on these?


IT Articles –

Recent IT Articles – these relate to a variety of current issues and topics in IT – This especially suits the ITGS teacher.

Untangling the complicated web

Keywords: Internet, WWW, explanation

Tennis coaching gets a smart racquet

Keywords: Sports, technology, convergence, leisure, entertainment, health

Futuristic data-related tennis equipment may be about to change the face of the sport in the way that metal and carbon racquets once did.

The driverless car

Keywords: Business, employment, AI, home, leisure, transport

The driverless car may promise an accident-free motoring future, but Adam Gopnik raises a few moral caveats from the backseat.

Read more:

Money lenders checking social media profiles of potential customers – National – NZ Herald News

Keywords: Business, employment, commerce, social media, privacy

Pack your laptop, we’re off to $chool – Aucklander – The Aucklander News

Keywords: Education, tablet, laptop, BYOD, Cost, schools

The future of work… office not required – Life & Style – NZ Herald News

Keywords: business, employment, teleworking, home office, SOHO

IT articles – Surveillance, privacy, security

IT Articles around the topic of surveillance.

Canada ‘spied on airport travellers’
Keywords: Politics, government, surveillance, privacy, Canada
Canada’s spy agency collected data from travellers using an airport’s wi-fi system, CBC reports, quoting documents leaked by Edward Snowden.

Read more:

Supermarket attaches tracking devices to trolley

Keywords: Business, marketing, surveillance, privacy, business, Employment

Yahoo email account passwords stolen

Keywords: Security, reliability, integrity

Google Glass introduces games

Keywords: Wearable, games, Google, Glass, trend, technology

Whitelist for wrongly-blocked sites

Keywords: Filtering, internet, politics, government, business, employment, digital citizenship

The government is drawing up a list of sites inadvertently blocked by the filters it asked internet service providers to implement.

Read more:

Social media transforms lessons

Keywords: Education, learning, social media, tablet computing

A school in Norway has taken an innovative approach to learning by equipping every student with a tablet and teaching English using social media.

Read more:

Sorry gamers, ‘exergaming’ is no substitute for the real thing

Keywords: Health, entertainment, leisure, games, consoles, exercise, fitness

Google gets AI start up

Keywords: Google, business, employment, AI

Google hopes designer frames will sharpen Glass – Business – NZ Herald News

Keywords: Wearable, technology, google, business, leisure, entertainment, glass

Smartphone sales ‘top one billion’

More than one billion smartphones were shipped last year, with Samsung extending its lead as the world’s biggest vendor, a new survey shows.

Read more:

NSA ‘gets data from Angry Birds’

Keywords: politics, government, surveillance, security, privacy

US and British spy agencies routinely try to gain access to personal data from Angry Birds and other mobile applications, a report says.

Read more:


iPad – Speak Selection Feature – Video

Its been a while since I have had time to do anything creative and even publish a blog post. But here is something I have been dabbling with.

iPad Speak Selection Feature – How to Video

speak selection

This video looks at the Speak Selection feature in the iPads Operating system. Great feature and very useful as a tool for our students.

Recommendation: – Make sure they use headphones

Is privacy the cost on new technology

noun [ mass noun ]
a state in which one is not observed or disturbed by other people: she returned to the privacy of her own home.
• the state of being free from public attention: a law to restrict newspapers’ freedom to invade people’s privacy.

[Dictionary Version 2.2.1 Apple]

I read this morning in Stuff that Google Glass is being send out, for a small fee, to the lucky winners of the contest held in the US (8000 winners and US$1500 per pair) –

The Google glass’es look amazing and they are the forerunner of a wave of wearable technologies. In fact the Horizon report for 2013 – higher education edition has wearable technology on its 4-5 year horizon – and

Google glass is the start of what we are to see, but I am left wondering if the price we pay for these technologies isn’t just financial but also with our privacy. I love the the idea of voice activated functionality, the immediacy and potential that this technology has. The promo videos are amazing, but they are meant to be. The concern is giving all my information to Google. (I know that’s an exaggeration, but…..)

Would Google, or in fact any other global cooperation actually be interested in me beyond the general trends about what I do and see? I don’t think so, I am not that interesting, but the general trends that I contribute to that is a different matter. Am I prepared to pay this price for the potential that these technologies hold? Yes, I think I am, because with my member ship of social media site, I have already given this away. But my decision must be a conscious one, informed, aware and deliberate.


Above video on Youtube –

On the wire – educause and common craft

Here are a couple of useful links that I have come across recently.

1. Educause  – 7 things you should know –

There are two recent updates in this useful series. The first is collaborative learning spaces and the second infographics tools. We are seeing across education a shift towards learning happening not just in the classroom but beyond. Collaborative learning spaces are useful tools that allow a common point for the learners to link to.

2. The commoncraft show –

This is one of my favourite sites and I am happy to pay the annual membership to get access to these resources. You can access this site for free and view the videos by going to There are three things that are worth highlighting on this site at the moment:

3.  Robotics articles in the news

Robotics has recieved a little bit of press recently and here are some useful articles from my twitter feed (@achurches)

On the wire – Tineye labs, 3d Printers, Cambridge Digital Library and more

Its been a while since I have had the time to pen an on the wire update, but here is one.

1. TinEye Labs

This is a search engine with a difference, this one is based on colour. The search feature allows you to select a colour and then search through Flickr for creative commons images that match this colour. There is also TinEye which is the reverse search engine that allows you to search by inputting an image.

2. The Flynn effect

The Flynn effect is a discovery by a NZ scientist in the 1980’s that Human intelligence in the developed world increases by about 3 points every 10 years. Average human intelligence is meant to be 100. This is an interesting discussion on this phenomena.

3.Is artificial intelligence a threat to humanity?

This is an interesting opinion piece syndicated on to New Zealand’s TV3 News. worth a read as we see the speed at which artificial intelligence is progressing

4. 3D Printing  – educause – 7 things you shoould know about 3D printing

If you are not familiar with this series of resources, they are a great and balanced perspective on the impact of a tech nology on education (its focused on higher education). Each paper asks seven questions:

  1. What is it?
  2. How does it work?
  3. Who’s doing it?
  4. Why is it signficant?
  5. What are the downsides?
  6. Where is it going?
  7. What are the implications for higher education?

This one is looking at 3D printing and benefits and downsides. No long ago you were looking at 3D printers costing in the thousands of dollars, but now you can pick them up for under AU$1000 and if you look to the US there are lots available – This is an amazing development and I would imagine that the price will come down a little more. Unlike printer ink, the plastic for the these tools is probably more easily obtained, so companies will be hard pressed to maintain there monopoly and there for extortionate cost on the consumables. What a great opportunity for students to work right through the creative and development process – Solution Fluency

For those with an endless budget, check this out – Buildatron –

5. Cambridge Digital Library

This is an amazing and fascinating site to visit. It holds, in digital format, an array of books, manuscripts and works from various religions, authors and scientists.

Follow me on Twitter?

Facebook – new poke application

The new facebook poke app raises a concern or two for me in regards to appropriate use. The app which is essentially facebook’s version of snapchat allows the user to do a number of interesting things.

Here is what they say about it in the 12 December news release

With the Poke app, you can poke or send a message, photo, or video to Facebook friends to share what you’re up to in a lightweight way. You can poke an individual friend or several at once. Each message expires after a specific time you’ve set, either 1, 3, 5 or 10 seconds. When time runs out, the message disappears from the app. ” source:

So you can set a message that is only visible for a short space of time and then deletes. The message could be text, image or video. but wait there is more facebook will only hold the message and the encryption keys for the message for 2 days (source:

When working with students we ask them, if they are being repeatedly bullied to:

  • Talk with a trusted adult – be it the school Councillor, teacher etc
  • not delete the messages and hold them as evidence

Now they have a message that will appear for upto 10 seconds and then disappear/deleted, even the most tech savvy user is going to struggle to take a screen grab in that time. What’s more there is a 48 hour window to get facebook to recover the the poke. If you have ever tried to get facebook to do anything it is usually more than 48 hours.

Am I concerned, yes – this is a tool for the cyber bully.

I know concerns have been raised to about snapchat as a tool of choice in sexting. Does facebook really need to match it? They ahve attempted to match some of the terms and conditions of snapchat “When you send or receive messages using the Snapchat services, we temporarily process and store your images and videos in order to provide our services… we attempt to delete image data as soon as possible after the message is transmitted.” (Source: click on terms at the bottom of the page)


Well, what would I say to my students about this application?

  1. Don’t use it – this is suspect will fall on deaf ears but, it may raise some awareness
  2. if its abusive or inappropriate, unfriend the sender or is you are struggling to see who it is uninstall the app
  3. If its serious and/or persistent, talk to a trusted adult and move with speed to report the issue to facebook – Facebook – report a violation –

Resources and links:

Facebook – report a violation –

Digital citizenship resources –

Follow me on Twitter - @achurches

Follow me on Twitter – @achurches


Apple trick – Dictation using Mountain lion

One of the very useful, but perhaps under utilised features of mountain lion is the dictation tool. Once its switched on the world of dictation is opened.

Switch it on by going to system preferences > dictation and speech and switching dictation on you can also select your language type.

From here it’s really easy double click on the function key FN  and speak.

I found the Apple care page on this useful as well. Here is a selection that covers the basic problems you often have with dictation.

cap (for example, “this is a cap Test”) Capitalize next word
all caps (for example, “this is a all caps TEST”) Type in all caps
caps on Caps lock on
caps off (for example, “this is caps on A VERY IMPORTANT TEST caps off tomorrow”) Caps lock off
no caps(for example, “what time is my meeting in no caps boston today”) All lowercase
new line Insert new text line
next line Go to the next text line
new paragraph Begin new paragraph
next paragraph Go to the next paragraph
no space Do not insert a space after the next word
no space on (for example, “the new car is no space on reallyreallyexpensive”) Do not insert any spaces between words
no space off Resume inserting spaces between words
space bar (for example, “this restaurant is first space bar class”) Type a space
numeral (for example, “he starts from position numeral 5″) Type the numeral, such as 5 instead of “five”
Roman numeral (for example, “in January it’s Roman numeral MMXIII”) Type the spoken as a Roman number

Do you have an iPad 3? Try out siri for dictation. Once you have enabled it in settings by clicking on the microphone icon in the pop up keyboard  (Settings > General > Siri). Here is the help file –




Unit Planning, the 5C’s

As teachers we know that we need to have unit plans. This is a standard expectation of teachers, in many circumstances we are also expected to have lesson plans as well. We often hear adages as justification of the need for planners like

“Failure to plan is planning to fail”

“Proper planning prevents poor performance”

While these are very applicable and true, I think there are five underlying reasons for structured unit planning. These are the five C’s – Consistency, Continuity, Coverage, Considered & Creativity

  • Consistency – Consistency allows us to have consistent delivery of the curriculum between classes and across the course. We know that what is covered in one class is covered in the others, thus the preparations for assessment is fair and equitable. Consistency does not mean that each class is delivered in the same manner, rather that the core content is covered.
  • Continuity – Continuity is planning for the unthinkable. Should a member of staff be unable to teach, their is suitable structure in place to allow the replacement teacher to quickly and easily pick up the thread of teaching and learning and provide continuity of education to our students.
  • Coverage – Coverage is ensuring that all aspects of the syllabus or curriculum are addressed, that they are covered in sufficient depth and rigor to meet the requirements for assessment. It allows us to apply curriculum mapping to examine the syllabus as a whole and to make the links between the different disciplines, building the cross curricula links that are synergistic to learning. Cross curricula learning is the core element of Daggett’s application Model (see Activity mapping –
  • Creativity – Unit planning allows you to look at the bigger picture. Once you have laid out the wealth of content, concepts, attitudes and processes you need to share with your students, you can start to consider the different approaches, methods and strategies you can use to engage and motivate the students. You can link the higher order thinking skills (See Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy –, Sensory learning (See ICT & Learning styles – Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences ( See ICT & Multiple intelligences – and consider how you can integrate traditional and digital approaches to teaching and learning – (See Traditional practice and Digital Approaches –
  • Considered – Structure and planning allows all of these and it faciltiates reflection. We can look back and consider what we did and how we can improve. It allows our teaching to be deliberate. This does not mean we can not seize the teachable moment, I would never ever want to see regimented teaching.