Sunday, July 26, 2015

My Confession...and Resolution

I guess I have to come clean:  for much of my adult life, I have been a thief.

Probably much of my student life, too, if I'm being honest.

In the name of full disclosure, my stealing was as a result of laziness, not intention.  But, still.  Even just this summer I was regularly in the practice of using images made by someone else and never never NEVER giving credit.  My mind reels to the dozens upon dozens of PowerPoint presentations I have made teaching, the brochures and marketing that I did for our trip to Peru, the countless handouts and worksheets that I have tried to "spice up", and the hours upon hours that I have spent Tweeting or reTweeting something I liked.

And no concern whatsoever for citing their origin.

Perhaps that lack of concern is rooted in the fact that I assume everyone feels as I feel.  I have a laid back personality in this respect.  I couldn't care less if someone knew my name or not.  I despise being the center of attention.  I can't think of a scenario where I would demand credit for anything.  Most of the time, I do my best to push credit (even deserved credit in some instances) to others.  I've always found humility to be an attractive quality.

And then Twitter rocked my world in SO. MANY. WAYS.

Recently I over-read (oversaw? eavesdropped? stalked?) a conversation I found to be rude and ridiculous.  Five or six people were ganging up on one individual who had tweeted an image without citing who created it.  They attacked like a flock of vultures who saw an opportunity to pick their prey apart.  Did they have a valid concern?  Probably.  But it's hard for me to hear anything you are saying when you are obnoxiously rude and petty about it.  My empathy is for the other person and you become the bad guy instantaneously.  And then one apparent-vulture-lady Tweeted something to the same effect as the vultures, but with all the emotion removed and just the facts stated objectively. Not vulture-like after all.
Their words specifically caught my attention because Justin was Tweeting exactly what I had done/felt before.  I never claimed to create this.  What is the big deal?  Isn't it assumed that everyone "Google Images" what they need and comes up with something they didn't create?  Mirna was Tweeting something so black and white, something I would tell students, and something I myself was not doing. Ouch.  As I searched for more #digitalcitizenship Tweets, I came across this one:

OUCH. (Have I said that in this post yet?!)
How can I create projects where I require students to cite their sources if I'm not bothering to cite mine?  How can I expect the librarian to co-teach with me for 2 days to correctly explain the difference between plagiarism and paraphrasing when the remaining 178 days I undermine what she just taught?  How can I continue doing what I've been absentmindedly doing for the past 5 years if I want to improve in so many other areas?

I think the big "AHA!" moment came when one of my blog posts about "Tweachers" really took off.  I mean, "took off" for me.  I posted resources for teachers found on Twitter and all of the sudden some of my educational role models were posting my link on Twitter!  Before I knew it, people I didn't even know were linking my blog post in articles they publish weekly.  For those of you who have largely successful blogs, just pretend you remember what it felt like when you were first getting noticed :)  It. felt. good.  I liked seeing my name next to work that I had put effort into.  I liked getting credit.  I liked people knowing my name because of my work.

Wait, WHAT?!

And all of the sudden, it clicked.  All of the individuals out there who have created visuals, photographed incredible scenes, and come up with ideas better than mine deserve credit for their accomplishments. And that doesn't make them self-centered or rude or demanding.  They don't even have to care about it, to be honest.  It is my responsibility as a professional and as a respectful human being to make whatever effort necessary to give others rightful credit.  In word or in deed.   And I'll be honest, I have very little clue of where to start.

Here are the links I am currently searching to find out more about how to be a more responsible digital citizen and how to teach students about digital citizenship as well.  With more and more schools moving to 1:1, I am realizing how pertinent the need for teachers educated on this topic and actively modeling this topic truly is.  So, feel free to browse along with me if you find yourself in the same boat as I am:

  1. Curating vs. Stealing
  2. Why Digital Citizenship Should be on the Minds of Educators
  3. 6 Resources for Educators
  4. Teacher's Guide to Digital Citizenship
My "next step" for the moment is to read through these articles (and more!) for future change, but also change in small ways immediately.  Recently, I have begun just tweeting someone and asking/checking if I have their permission to link something to my blog, Smore eflyer or even in a presentation in advance.  They always say yes, but some do specify "please give credit."  Which I no longer think is self-seeking, but rather a legitimate concern.

I should include that Justin (the man I mentioned who was attacked by vultures?) corrected his mistake for all to see.  I was pretty impressed that someone with his platform for influence would admit an error and post the correction publicly, even when that correction came because of vultures.  And the kind not-vulture lady?  She kept being kind :)

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