The 5 best digital identity resources

Digital identity & citizenship is an essential part of a relevant education, and of a connected life, in the 21st century. Here are the 5 best resources for learning about digital identity. These websites/documents are useful to parents and teachers interested in learning more about digital ethics, cyberbullying and netiquette:

  1. Net Cetera is a U.S. government produced community outreach toolkit that defines and discusses the impact of common social media platforms with a focus on cyber-safety.
  2. Meeting of Minds: Cross-Generational Dialogue of the Ethics of Digital Life is a 2009 synthesis of conversations between kids and adults that highlights the similarities and differences of each generation’s thoughts on digital media and ethics.
  3. CommonSenseMedia provides curriculum, advice, policy and reviews for parents and teachers to understand the media available today and its potential to influence our behavior and/or beliefs. Their recent research study, Zero to Eight: Children’s Media Use in America, is an enlightening survey and analysis of U.S. parents (published October 2011).
  4.’s Digital Citizenship Resource Roundup is a collection of articles related to netiquette and online safety. Their free publication, A Parent’s Guide to 21st Century Learning, documents excellent examples of appropriate technology-influenced classroom experiences.
  5. Digital ID: 21st Century Citizenship is “a toolkit of reliable information, resources, and guidelines to help teachers/parents/students learn how to be upstanding digital citizens.” This resource is a collaboration managed by Natalie Bernasconi & Gail Desler.

I recommend these resources to all schools, and we used some of these as platforms for parent education last year at one of the schools I work with. To understand what a classroom looks like when the information in these resources is put into practice, spend 5 minutes with Linda Yollis‘ fabulous 3rd grade classroom.

For an enthralling (and fictitious) account of a world in which we don’t address the need to live ethically online, spend 5 minutes watching Tom Scott’s “Flash Mob Gone Wrong” at Ignite London:

35% of teens respond to cyberbullies face-to-face

Mashable just published an infographic with some fascinating statisics on cyberbullying, based on new data by McAfee.

Some trends are not surprising, such as 92% of teen respondents saying that bullying happens on Facebook.

Other trends are encouraging: 40% of respondents have asked bullies to stop and 20% have told an adult. Hoping that educators can continue to highlight this connection between real-world and virtual identities through explicit and implicit conversations.

Mary Beth Hertz - technology educator

Mary Beth Hertz | Alliance for Progress Charter School

Name: Mary Beth Hertz (Website, @mbteach)
Organization: Edcamp Foundation, Alliance for Progress Charter School
Current title: Technology teacher, Board member of the Edcamp Foundation
Selected accolade: ISTE Emerging Leader in 2010


What is the best part of your job?

The creativity of my students.


What skill(s) do you feel are most important for today’s students to explore in academic settings (tech or non-tech related)?

It is important for young people to be able to read critically. In an age of information overload, it is imperative that future generations can weed out the ‘crap’ and form their own opinions.


For a teacher looking to use technology to connect with students, enhance learning or embrace 21st century skills, where do you suggest one begin?

My suggestion is to start small. Pick one tool or website to use each year and think carefully about the purpose that tool or site serves. Just because everyone else is using it doesn’t mean that you have to if it doesn’t fit what you are already doing in the classroom. In a nutshell, look at your learning goals for a unit and choose a technology that will enhance or better yet, transform how your students reach those goals.


What are you most excited about for the upcoming school year?

I have just rewritten my curriculum for this school year and focused it around four themes: Communicate, Create, Collaborate and Evaluate. Throughout the year, my students will be asking questions such as “How does technology help me communicate?” “How should I evaluate my work and the work of others when using technology?” With the help of my friend, Kristen Swanson, I have build units on those themes in various areas (Programming, Digital Storytelling, Research, Digital Citizenship…) and followed the Understanding by Design concept of Enduring Understandings and Essential Questions.


What was your path to your current position?

I graduated with a BA in French and African American Studies. I moved to Philly and wanted to become a teacher, so I applied to the school district’s Literacy Intern program and was accepted. I worked for a year and a half co-teaching with classroom teachers and getting my teaching certificate through night classes. My first assignment as a certified teacher was as a K-6 Science teacher, which I did for two years before being asked to take on the job of Computer Teacher when our school received 40 new iMac computers. The rest is history.

iPad deployment: to curriculum and beyond

I recently read Steve Kinney’s post on the mechanics of an iPad deployment and was reminded how far tools and documentation have come in the last year or so. Now that a roadmap is beginning to emerge for 1:1 and cart-based deployments, what about the curricular and social side of the roll-out?

I recently wrote an article for that outlines the concerted effort at Westside School in Seattle:

Parents, teachers, students and administrators mapped out an integrated project-based learning environment designed to engage and challenge all participants. The planning team made a list of skills and tools that would support learning, and decided on a 1:1 iPad program to support their vision.

Click through to read the entire How to Roll Out a 1:1 iPad Program at Edutopia.

W.M. Hunt on collecting art

Art, Inspiration & Education

Last week the Seattle Art Museum hosted a talk by art curator & collector W.M. Hunt. The evening was part lecture, part memoir, part performance and was held in conjunction with Photo Center NW’s annual competition exhibition, for which Mr. Hunt was the juror.

As an educator, I found Hunt’s thoughts on finding and cultivating passion to be inline with my hopes for a learning community. He graciously agreed to sit down for an interview:


Multi-tasking tablets on the horizon

At a recent professional development session I got the chance to play with the upcoming Windows 8 operating system running on a tablet.

Windows 8 has many features designed to address shortcomings with iOS 4/5 for iPads. One of the most exciting is multi-task capability – this feature allows the user to run 2 different apps at the same time side-by-side. I recorded a quick demo:

jac de haan - microsoft innovative educator - seattle us forum

Top educators named at 2012 #PiLUS forum

The 2012 Partners In Learning US Forum culminated last night at an awards ceremony where 16 educators were chosen to represent the United States in Prague.

This 3-day event, held at Microsoft’s Redmond campus, was a combination of professional development, competition and networking. 102 educators were selected and joined by 30 judges (including Steven AndersonLeslie ConeryVicki Davis, Yohance Maqubela) to be challenged and inspired by Alan NovemberJurec KlepicAngela Maiers and each other’s passion and experiences.

Congratulations to all participants, I was honored to be a part of the group.

Free speech-to-text options for OSX & Windows 7

Will keyboarding skills go the way of cursive writing in this decade?

One of the primary obstacles to computing for many students is input. Speech-to-text capabilities, once available only with expensive software, now comes with the latest versions of the 2 most popular consumer operating systems, Windows 7  and OSX. Directions for activating speech-to-text are outlined below:

Windows 7

  1. Open Speech Recognition by clicking the Start button > All Programs.
  2. Select Accessories > Ease of Access > Windows Speech Recognition.
  3. Click the Microphone button to start the listening mode.
  4. Open the program you want to use or select the text box you want to dictate text into.
  5. Say the text that you want dictate.

Apple OSX (10.8)

  1. Open System Preferences from the Apple menu (top left) and click the “Dictation & Speech” panel.
  2. Via the “Dictation” tab, click  “ON” next to “Dictation”
  3. In the resulting popup, select “Enable Dictation”
  4. Open any writing app or go to a text input field and double-tap the “fn” key to bring up Dictation.
  5. When little microphone popup appears, start talking.
  6. When finished, hit the “fn” key again or click the “Done” button.

Are we a nation of Makers?

A few days ago I was waiting for a mechanic to call back to let me know if he could attend to some scary-looking warning lights on my car dash, when I ran across this beautifully made interview short by Andrew David Watson entitled Handmade Portraits: Liberty Vintage Motorcycles.

In the film, narrator Adam Cramer lements:

The largest problem facing us is the deindustrialization of America. Our ‘can-do’ American spirit is being lost.

As a lover of the Maker movement and former TinkerLab founder, I had the need to push back against this perception. I began Googling around until I had identified the error message, removed my dashboard, and swapped out the part.

Even as most car manufacturers and gadget producers give us less ability to maintain and modify the products we produce, there are movements underfoot that resemble the world of “New Work” in Doctorow’s Makers.  I hope we are moving back towards a culture of do-it-yourself and personally work to cultivate curiosity with my students. Here are some encouraging stories to support this claim:

As a middle school teacher, my job is often to seed a set of boundaries in the hopes that students will encounter and then hack their way up/over/around them. Sometimes this is a student who, frustrated by iMovie’s single-title limitation, discovers that exporting and then reimporting projects allows her to create layers of words over a clip. On another occasion, a student misses a self-imposed project deadline and uploads an impassioned YouTube apology complete with live puppy (with really sad puppy eyes) requesting an extension.

What do you believe? Is Cramer right that “our children don’t know the difference between a flathead screwdriver and a Phillips” or do you align with Muren’s philosophies?

Ben Smith | Red Lion Area School District

Name: Ben Smith (@edtechben)
Organization: Red Lion Area School District
Current title: Physics Teacher / Consultant
Selected accolades: 2011 Making IT Happen recipient, ISTE PK-12 representative for the Board of Directors (2008-2012)

What is your key to personal growth as an educator?

What we want students to be able to do?  I figure out what I want from students first – this is both content plus those 21st century (or science) skills.  Then I work backwards.

I encourage teachers to use a less formal structure with students (Don’t Worry, Be Vague).  I think this loose structure allows and encourages students to be creative and gives teachers a chance to work more closely with their students.

What skill(s) do you feel are most important for today’s students to explore in academic settings (tech or non-tech related)?

I have four goals for my students.  I want them to be able to communicate, collaborate, be creative and solve problems.  I use physics as the vehicle but the emphasis is truly on the skills students need to be successful.  As a science teacher, this comes naturally to me as it is important to not only “know” science but also “do” science.

For a teacher looking to use technology to connect with students, enhance learning or embrace 21st century skills, where do you suggest one begin?

I would have to say the place to start is with ISTE (or one of the affiliates).  Get to a conference – it can change the course of your career.  The other place is to find an online community.  I use Twitter to find a lot of information and share thoughts.

What is the best part of your job?

The best part of my job occurs when the bell rings.  I really enjoy the interaction that occurs in the classroom.  Although there is not really a typical class, it often starts with announcements to students and then putting them to work.  I move throughout the room talking, encouraging and working with students wherever they are in the unit.  Students work on the activities that are best for the classroom.  Sometimes this involves homework problems, asking questions, working on labs, etc.  I always look forward to challenges.  Last school year I took over our TV Studio.  We broadcast a morning show ( but have transformed the studio into the communications center for the school.  We cover news, Tweet events and announcements, and work to shape the message about the great things going on in our school.

What was your path to your current position?

I have been teaching for 23 years in the same room in which I started.  This seems a bit unusual but the school has seen a lot of growth and several construction projects…but it all happens around me.  My room has been transformed – they knocked out the wall and replaced the furniture.  At the time, although it was a difficult task to convince the architects, I had them take everything out and put in tables and chairs.  The tables all move and we often rearrange them.  Students will put them together to work around, move them in the hall at times, and put them in a place to take advantage of what they are working on.

I also serve on the ISTE Board of Directors as a PK-12 representative. My involvement with ISTE began when I was named a Keystone teacher in Pennsylvania.  At the state level they held a summit which I attended as a participant before becoming an event instructor.  It really started me down the path of using Ed Tech (hopefully effectively).  I began working as an ISTE faculty member.  My travels as a consultant have taken me to Singapore, USVI and all over the US to work with teachers, schools, and corporations.  So while I have not left the room I started in, I have expanded my world-view and brought many ideas back into my own teaching practice.