Reflective Thinking

Reflection on Digital footprint and Net Neutrality

When we use the digital footprint lesson for teaching in our schools, we first need to see how we will present our students. Will we scare them, or will we be honest with them about how the internet works. I think about to days youth and how they socialize. The generation we teach is called iGenreation, and they have to know what it was like back in the ’80s and education. From the reading material, we had several meaningful articles. Many of our children and myself included do not remember telephone numbers or read a map. They live off of handheld technology. Many of my students love to say that is not what goggle said or let me search it. They use several platforms just to see how one another is doing. Many of today’s youth are so unaware of their footprint. I believe they really have not a clue that privacy is not really private.

Middle School students are on social media for 75% of their wake hours. They have easy access because their phone is permanently in their hands. My own son walks around as if he only has one hand because the other is holding his phone while watching YouTube. I find it interesting that Teens, Social Media & Technology Overview 2015, thought that Facebook is for teens. I believe they are on Snapchat and Twitch more than anything. I was shocked by how they studied the economics of their family related to what apps they used.

Understanding that a footprint in the sand and online is to different meanings. When you walk across the sand, the wind and the waves make it disappear, but your impression is here to stay using the internet. We should always give our name a good search and be mindful of what we post. It is like your reputation. You never want your name to have a lousy connotation to it, so looking out for your digital footprint or tattoo is vital to what is happening in your life now and what you would like to happen for your life in the future.

Reading about Net Neutrality made me think about the time I was preparing to move out of my parent’s house. My daddy helped me get the moving packet and checklist going. I kept thinking to myself; the lights should be free. Water should be free. Thinking about the internet should stay free, and access to the same speed should always be fair. Large corporations that provide internet services are the only ones that seem to have a problem with net neutrality because it cuts into their profits. I can recall just how I was forced to upgrade my speed and data usage just to be Successful at online teaching during the pandemic of 2020. Now, everyone was online, and my Wi-Fi provider knew this and took full advantage of my need to have full access to faster and more data. I will never understand how some get away with charging educators to be teachers. The internet is a material that is needed; without arguments, it is required.

Can learning happen where there are no schools?

~ Nicholas Negroponte, 2002

I chose the quote because I am a teacher, and I see learning happening everywhere and every day. So to answer the question, I say emphatically yes.  We are actually in this position with our current education state. Students are using technology to learn. We have given every child a device. Many have studied what would happen if you pass the learner a tablet or laptop. They explore and began to investigate what they can do with it. In the TED talk with Dr. Negroponte, he used his resources to test a theory, can learning happen even if there are o teachers are schools. He was proven correct. He believed that children will investigate and try new things even if they are not in schools. The students, once they turned the tablets on, immediately began to learn. He stated that the children started to sing ABS songs and hacked into a droid within a short period.  What was fascinating to me was the children never allowed their own brains to stop guided them to try out the device. They even mapped out ways to search for things. Children can learn when there are no schools. They know by observation. They can learn from just listening to conversations. They are the best at the discovery and exploring.

In my own life, teaching virtually feels like there are no schools only because I am in my home office teaching and learning—no hallways with lockers or even the smells of the gym. I never would have considered going to school virtual. Still, here I am doing it with, and I actually can not have imagined dragging myself to a college campus to work in a lecture hall setting after working 8 hours in a middle school. I see education is now more of shared responsibility. Parents and caregivers are stepping up to educate their own. Something I believe was lost many years before my time in educations. More programs have been implemented to inform our children and adults. We have had to power up schools and create teaching environments that were never there before.

Photo by Cristian Dina on

Why net neutrality matters to education.

Net neutrality matters in education because all learners need the internet. They need a place to find and use the information that is used for their learning. From my understanding of the information provided in my class lecture, net neutrality is the principle that the internet service providers have to keep the internet free from slowing down or speeding up the “flow” of the internet connections. That all data should basically travel legally and without being restricted. Even when school districts filter web content, they still allow access to what they deem essential.  We have access to online textbooks, which I believe cut costs on many levels. Students have access to online libraries and data sources to fully understand what they are being taught. It’s a beautiful thing to have, knowledge and access to it.

Net neutrality in education is leveling the playing field. Most of my students depend on our campus’s 1:1 grant program, which provides them with free data on their I pad. That data allows them to access the internet without having home Wi-Fi. Net neutrality is important because it gives access to so many educational opportunities, for example, websites like Khan Academy or BrainPOP. One of my all-time favorites is Flocabulary. Giving students access will take away what helps them learn. I work in middle school, and introducing Flocabulary to my math students changed how they remembered steps in mathematical equations.  Students travel all over the world, virtually. They can now take 360-degree tours of the galaxy. They have so many learning opportunities right at their fingertips.

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