Digital Citizenship Rights and Responsibilities: CATE Panel @CSSE 2019

Speaker Notes

I’m really privileged to participate in an open panel discussion on Rights and Responsibilities of Digital Citizenship at the Canadian Society for Studies in Education conference. I’ve posted my slides here plus a link to my speaker notes. The references that I’ve used to think through these remarks are offered here for anyone interested in some good reading that raises lots of questions for how we can design teacher education programs that address the first principle of Canada’s new Digital Charter — Universal Access.


Bråten, I., Strømsø, H. I., & Britt, M. A. (2009). Trust Matters: Examining the Role of Source Evaluation in Students’ Construction of Meaning within and across Multiple Texts. Reading Research Quarterly, 44(1), 6–28.

Bråten, I., Britt, M. A., Strømsø, H. I., & Rouet, J.-F. (2011). The Role of Epistemic Beliefs in the Comprehension of Multiple Expository Texts: Toward an Integrated Model. Educational Psychologist, 46(1), 48–70.

Chaput, M., & Champagne, A. (2012). Internet, New Media and Social Media. Report of The Standing Senate Committee on Official Languages. Retrieved from

Chaudron, S., DiGioa, R. & Gemo, M. (2018). Young children (0-8) and digital technology: A qualitative study across Europe. Joint Research Centre (European Commission). Retrieved from

Fontaine, T. (2017). Digital Divides in Canada’s Northern Indigenous Communities: Supports and Barriers to Digital Adoption [Master’s Thesis, University of Alberta]. Retrieved from

Fry, H. (2018). Hello world: Being human in the age of algorithms. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.

Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (2019). Canada’s digital charter: Trust in a digital world. Ottawa, ON: Government of Canada. Retrieved from

Haight, M., Quan-Haase, A., & Corbett, B. A. (2014). Revisiting the digital divide in Canada: The impact of demographic factors on access to the Internet, level of online activity, and social networking site usage. Information, Communication & Society, 17(4), 503–519.

Hargittai, E. (2010). Digital Na(t)ives? Variation in internet skills and uses among members of the “net Generation.” Sociological Inquiry, 80(1), 92–113.

Hargittai, E., & Shaw, A. (2015). Mind the Skills Gap : The Role of Internet Know-How and Gender in Contributions to Wikipedia. Information, Communication & Society, 18(4), 424–442.

Idris, I.K. (2019, March) Facebook has shut down accounts spreading fake news, but is it accountable?

Kohnen, A. M., & Mertens, G. E. (2019). “I’m Always Kind of Double-Checking”: Exploring the Information-Seeking Identities of Expert Generalists. Reading Research Quarterly, 0(0), 1–19.

Leu, D. J., Forzani, E., Rhoads, C., Maykel, C., Kennedy, C., & Timbrell, N. (2014). The new literacies of online research and comprehension: Rethinking the reading achievement gap. Reading Research Quarterly, 85, 1–23.

O’Donnell, S., Beaton, B., McMahon, R., Hudson, H.E., Williams, D., Whiteduck, T. (2016, June). Digital technology adoption in remote and northern Indigenous communities in Canada. Canadian Sociological Association 2016 Annual Conference, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB. Retrieved from

O’Neil, K. (2016). Weapons of math destruction: How big data increase inequality and threatens democracy. New York: Crown Random House.

Pariser, E. (2012). The filter bubble: How the personalized web is changing what we read and how we think. New York: Penguin Random House.

Sanders, S. (2016, November 8). Did social media ruin election 2016?

Shade, L.R. (2016). Integrating Gender into Canadian Internet Policy: From the Information Highway to the Digital Economy. Journal of Information Policy, 6(2016), 338.

Stanford History Education Group. (2016). Evaluating information: The cornerstone of civic online reasoning. Stanford, CA: Stanford University. Retrieved from

Stockdale, D. (2017). Why we should hold Facebook responsible for Fake News. Centre for Digital Ethics and Policy. Retrieved from

Thompson, E. (2019, May 7) Ethics committe votes to subpoena Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg to testify Retrieved from

van Strien, J. L. H., Brand-Gruwel, S., & Boshuizen, H. P. a. (2014). Dealing with conflicting information from multiple nonlinear texts: Effects of prior attitudes. Computers in Human Behavior, 32, 101–111.

Wachter-Boettcher, S. (2017). Technically wrong: Sexist apps, biased algorithms, and other threats of toxic tech. New York: W.W.Norton & Company.

Wineburg, S., & McGrew, S. (in press). Lateral reading and the nature of expertise: Reading less and learning more when evaluating digital information. Teachers College Record. Retrieved from

Repost: “The Makerspace is the heart of our school” : A model for Making that values community, inclusion, and student agency

Joël Desjardins teaches students to edit green screen video footage in their Makerspace.

Ceci est une deuxième version, légèrement rédigée, de l’affichage blogue qui a été publié premièrement au site web du International Literacy Association. Vous pouvez accéder à cette première version ici.

This is a version of a post that first appeared at the International Literacy Association’s Literacy Today Blog. I have been contributing to their Teaching with Tech series since 2012. You can read the ILA version of the post here.

Joël Desjardin’s decision to become an elementary teacher was driven, in part, by his personal belief that to thrive in school and in life, many children need learning conditions broader than those offered by traditional paradigms. As we talked about the impact of the Makerspace that he has worked tirelessly to establish over the past two years with colleagues, his voice resonated with passion, and a deep respect for his students and their learning needs.

The Makerspace is the heart of our school. When I was a kid, the gym was the heart of community in the school. Whenever there was a big event, we all gathered in the gym […] But I see the Makerspace as our “gym”. Our whole community can’t gather here physically but we do use technologies in the Makerspace to create community, to bring us all together — through our TéléMC newscasts, for example. And, the comings and goings in this space are incredible […] The kid who comes in here and finds that he can make something driven by his own interests — he’ll keep coming back to school. That’s what will keep him here.” *

In the Makerspace, Joël’s mission is to create the conditions and cultivate the relationships that will enable every child to find their voice, strengths, and purpose. More than 60% of students attending this school have lived in Canada for fewer than three years, and many do not speak French (the language of instruction) at home. In Joël’s words, “We’re imposing Canadian culture and language on these kids, and then we’re imposing Canadian schooling on top of that — they need to have spaces inside of these systems where they can leverage what they know, where they feel competent, capable and valued.

As they work to support students’ language and literacies learning, Joël and his colleagues understand that their work is also fundamentally about creating an inclusive community where students can find connections to themselves as they develop new identities as learners, as Makers, and often, as first-generation Canadians.

I think the work happening in this school can inform the design of culturally sensitive, social-justice oriented Maker pedagogies for literacies learning everywhere. Here are two examples that could inspire other school communities to imagine new possibilities for their Maker programs.

Café Altern

This spring, sixth grade students from Joël’s school visited Café Altern, a coffee shop in Ottawa’s Byward market, run entirely by high-school students and their teachers. For Joël’s students, the purpose was twofold. First, he wanted to expose them to the program which is designed for high-schoolers seeking pathways to employment through entrepreneurship. Secondly, he wanted his students to practice their media literacies skills. To this end, groups of students planned for, and then interviewed a Rwandan-Canadian artist whose work is exhibited in the Café, a local chef who supports the café, and the teachers and students who run daily operations. Using the industrial kitchen, the sixth-graders also learned to make, prepare, and then sell Maple Syrup that they had tapped from trees at school (using spiles that they 3D printed in the Makerspace). Post visit, the students used 10 hours of class time to edit their footage in WeVideo and create two-minute videos promoting the Café. In my view, this activity integrates layers of culturally situated, physical and digital meaning making, centred on community partnerships and student agency.


With a team of student media makers, Joël also produces the morning announcements which they livestream on the school’s Youtube channel from their Makerspace every morning. For these students, Joël cites vast improvement in confidence and oral communication skills. Every Friday, the team produces a longer newscast that includes highlights of the week, and explores an important theme.

Last week, on the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia,  their newscast focused on equipping the school community to understand what it means to be LGBTQ2+, to recognize and reject LGBTQ2+phobic language and behaviors, and to emphasize the importance of LGBTQ2+ people in their school community. Especially poignant — the principal, who co-hosted this special newscast, drew a picture of his own family, showed photographs of his family celebrating important moments together, and explained that his children have two dads. With more than 250 views for this newscast alone, the work in this Makerspace is reaching community beyond the school walls, and equipping students and faculty to understand and use a shared language of inclusion.

As Joël, his colleagues, and his students show us, a school Makerspace can become its heart — a place where technologies can be used to make meanings that strengthen, empower and create more inclusive communities.

*Joël approved my translations of his words, gave me permission to use his real name in this blog post, and to use this photo of him teaching in the Makerspace. The school’s Youtube channel is public. The principal of the school also reviewed the post and gave his support.

Je suis entièremement reconnaissante des contributions des élèves et de toute l’équipe @EEPMarieCurie. C’est un vrai privilège de pouvoir suivre et de documenter leurs activités d’apprentissage et d’enseignement au sein de leur Makerspace.

New Article: Digital literacies learning in contexts of development

In July of 2018, the International Development Research Centre of Canada invited me to conduct an external review of key findings in a set of 44 reports of research on digital learning. The reports, funded between 2016 and 2018 were incredibly diverse in their methods, questions, and findings. That report (currently in press with the IDRC) can be found here.

At the same time Dr. Hiller Spires of NC State University issued a call for papers for a special edition of Media and Communication called “Critical Perspectives on Digital Literacies: Creating a Path Forward”. My paper, entitled Digital literacies learning in contexts of development: A critical review of six IDRC-funded interventions 2016-2018 will appear in this special edition and should be published online by the end of May, 2019. Thanks to the open access policies of this journal, I can share a pre-print of the article here for anyone interested in reading the full text.

New Paper: AERA 2019

This week, I am privileged to present, with my colleagues Dr. Megan Cotnam-Kappel, Julie-Anne Turner and Dr. Janette Hughes, a report of research on the layered literacies practices used by three fifth-grade students as they worked through phases of an interdisciplinary project that included elements of online reading and research, Making, and multimodal composition. In a post-truth world where information is complex and always shifting, it is important for children to come to know that knowledges — in all of their forms — are constructions. We therefore need pedagogies that position and empower children as meaning makers, and idea assemblers themselves. This work is helping us to consider the ways that children make meanings during these types of multidimensional projects as a starting place for future research on student agency and the potential for Making to support students as they learn to become more critical readers, writers, and participants in all of the literacies landscapes they navigate.

Suggested citation: Hagerman, M.S., Cotnam-Kappel, M., Turner, J.-A., & Hughes, J.M. (2019, April 8). Layers of online reading, research, and multimodal synthesis practices while making: A descriptive study of three fifth-grade students. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Toronto, ON.

Beyond the Screentime Debate: NCTE Panel Presentation

With colleagues, I will be adding my perspectives on children and screentime to an important session at the NCTE Annual Convention in Houston, TX today.

From our proposal: “There are legitimate concerns about children’s physical, intellectual, and emotional well-being; yet conversations about screentime focus predominantly on the time spent on devices, often overlooking fundamentally important questions about what youth are learning by using technology. How do we navigate our own parenting lives when we are immersed in a field that values critical and creative use of devices, both in school and out, in order to build skills that are necessary for success in today’s world? What challenges do we as educators and parents face? How do we approach parenting in an age of screentime?

This session will bring together teachers and professors who are also parents to explore these questions and the notion of screentime itself. The opening keynote will situate the context by exploring the following questions. How is screentime portrayed in the media? Is all screentime created equal? What do we actually know from research? Then roundtable presenters will share challenges faced as parents.”

For my part, my Ignite-style talk (which, if you’ve never done one or seen one is 20 slides, timed to transition every 15 seconds) explores the challenges and opportunities that Virtual Playgrounds offer tweens going through tough transitions. Soon after we moved to Ottawa, my then 10-year old daughter started playing in a virtual world called Animal Jam. She loved it because her friends from school were playing, and as she told me in a conversation a couple of months ago, she felt successful there. At a time when everything was new, and she was always “the new girl” at school, she could be special in Animal Jam because she had “rare items” such as a coveted pair of butterfly wings. One afternoon, though, the wings were stolen by another player. Through her sobs, my daughter admitted she was tricked into giving out her account password by someone who had been her “friend” for some time in the game.

In the talk I offer five insights that align with and extend research on tweens’ virtual play in these kinds of virtual worlds. I also offer three big take-aways that could inform teaching and research.


  • For tweens, virtual playgrounds are about making and strengthening friendships.
  • Virtual worlds are an onramp to social media platforms and participation.
  • In virtual playgrounds tweens can feel more successful, powerful, liked, important and altruistic than they feel at school.
  • Getting scammed in a virtual playground can teach children important life lessons about trust.
  • Kids need grounded, lived experiences, not lectures about “not giving out their passwords”.  Kids don’t believe they’ll be scammed — but when they are scammed, they learn.

Implications for Teaching and Research

  • Creating safe opportunities for kids to experience online scams could be an effective approach to teaching online interactions, safety and citizenship. Role play online scams and then talk about it with students.
  • Open reflection over time with a loving adult, and without fear of judgment, seems important. My daughter was ashamed at first. She knew what she did. But reflection in the short and longer term has allowed her to articulate why she was tricked and learn from her mistake.
  • For tweens going through tough transitions, online games can be important social onramps. But parents and teachers need to help kids find other ways to connect with friends and community in real (rather than virtual) life too.

Online and Offline Resilience?

Going through a difficult move, and then experiencing an online deception left my daughter feeling vulnerable. However, situating stress in opportunities for connection and conversation may enable tweens to become more resilient both online and offline. As a parent, this is my hope. As a researcher, this question warrants future study.

The full transcript of my talk, with the interview that I conducted with my daughter, Zoë, can be found here.

I have published all of this with her permission, but I ask that if you use this talk, or the transcript of our conversation for any reason (research, professional development sessions etc.) that you do not use images of my daughter, or of her art, without permission from me.

Thanks to Kristen Hawley Turner, Troy Hicks, Tom Liam Lynch, Bill Bass, Lindy Johnson, Sara Kajder, Lauren King, William Kist, Ian O’Byrne, Kristy Pytash, Michelle Walker, Angela Wiseman, Carl Young and Andrea Zellner for their work for this panel and for their collaborations on this session.


Kafai, Y.B. & Fields, D.A. (2013). Connected play: Tweens in a virtual world. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

Thinking Tech with new Teacher Candidates at the University of Ottawa

Ed Tech at the University of Ottawa  Faculty of Education

Back-to-school means I get to meet another group of new teacher colleagues this week. It also means I get to talk with them about our Digital Hub Strategy in the Faculty of Education and about Making as a promising pedagogical approach.  I’ve put together two short presentations on these topics and am sharing them here for anyone interested in the ways that we’re working to support innovative practices and development of advanced professional digital literacies skills at the Faculty of Education at the University of Ottawa.

Digital Hub Strategy Presentation

Key insights from the discussion include:

  • B.Ed. students are clearly thinking about the multiple stakeholders who may want to know more about them. They are using their Hubs to communicate with parents, students, colleagues, future employers, the community at large.
  • Being on the web in this way raises important questions about the tensions in this practice of open networked sharing. For example, one student asked me — does this mean that as teachers, we are now expected to have a website so that we can be “vetted” by the community openly and in a digital space? In response, I said no — this is not a broadly established or mandated expectation. Neither the Ministry nor the OCT says (in any documents that I know of) that we must have a digital professional presence where examples of our work can be curated for scrutiny by others. I would add that doing this to be scrutinized by others is not the purpose of this work either. That said, teachers have always been held to very high standards by the public. The Hub is one way for us to own our identities in digital networks, and to transparently construct the narrative for others. Do we have to do this, no. However, since many of us already exist online in many ways, this project is meant to offer an opportunity for all candidates to learn new digital literacies skills and mindsets that are fundamental to their practice today, while also asserting some control over the ways that the public can come to know us as professionals. I appreciated this question very much and invite B.Ed. candidates to share their insights with me, and with their professors during the year, as they grapple with how to present their work.
  • Reclaim Hosting may be a good option for candidates interested in purchasing a domain name and having their Hub hosted by a third party.
  • Google Sites is free to uOttawa students. *Creating a blog with the new Google sites, however, is challenging. You have to create a Blogger account and link it.
  • CV: Include one — yes. Please be sure to NOT include your home address and telephone number or email address on your web-based CV, however. You will need two versions of your CV — one for the web and one that you submit for employment (that does include all of that personal info).
  • Photos: You will not have media permission to post photos of children on your website. Take photos of yourself teaching, take photos of work (and be sure to talk with your AT about how you plan to use those photos on your website), take photos of backs of heads, learn how to blur out faces using Photoshop,  learn how add happy face stickers over children’s faces to protect identities.
  • Naming your school on your web-based CV: Since children can be identified through you, please be sure to ask your AT or the principal at your practicum school(s) whether it is okay to name the school explicitly on your web-based CV. It may be enough online to simply state you worked in a grade 7 class in the OCDSB rather than name the school specifically.
  • It’s okay to “be human” on your site. Many B.Ed. candidates show things about their interests outside of work as a way to humanize their site and show multiple stakeholders who they are. This also seems to be a way for B.Ed. students to make meaning from the work of curating a digital hub.

Making in Classrooms Presentation

Key Insights from the workshop:

  • B.Ed. students drew some kind of visualization related in some way to their area of disciplinary expertise. Some students drew models of processes, others drew abstract images connected in some way to a theme or a concept, others drew procedures. Every image was different. Then, they integrated a simple circuit using a battery, copper tape and an LED light in a way that had meaning.
  • After students completed the activity, they walked around to see what others had done.
  • As we discussed, students felt this kind of activity supported collaboration, learning through discussion and observation, invited a sense of agency, and felt motivating because it was their own project. They also realized that everyone was engaged at the same time, and that nobody had to do the exact same thing to learn common ideas.
  • They also saw that in the images I shared from maker-based learning activities, participants of all ages seemed engaged, proud and happy to be doing the work.
  • After the workshop (see slides with research-based findings and links to Maker-based resources in the Ottawa area) I had a great conversation with a student about the potential of maker-based activities for supporting learning that aligns with social justice intiatives. In research that I am doing with colleagues, we are definitely working to see how young children might come to design maker-based solutions to important issues in their school community.

Design Ideas for Integrating 3D Printing in K-12 Classrooms

I teach a course at the University of Ottawa called Integrating Technology in Classrooms to second-year teacher candidates. At this point in the program, our candidates have completed months of evaluated practicum teaching experiences in schools, and have seen a lot of digital technologies used in classrooms for diverse purposes. So far, however, it has been quite rare for students to have seen 3D printers in use in their practicum classrooms — which is why I make sure they have a chance to think deeply about the pedagogical possibilities of this technology before they graduate. The 2017 Horizon Report suggests that 3D printers and Makerspaces are becoming mainstream in K-12 schools.

We’ve been lucky, in this class to be able to learn to design 3D objects and print them at the Richard Labbé Makerspace in the Faculty of Engineering. The workshop is always taught by a student engineer and many Education students appreciate the chance to work in a space that is very different from the spaces where they usually work (i.e, classrooms, libraries, coffee shops). As the students design their objects, the conversation turns to pedagogical integrations, applications, aspirations. Here is a list of some of the great ideas we have discussed in our class for projects that integrate 3D design and printing with curriculum expectations.

Project Ideas

  • Identify a real-life problem in the school, that could be solved with the design of some component, and then make it (e.g., do you need hooks to hang up jackets? do you need storage bins for supplies? could you fix something that broke? do you need doorstops?)
  • Design projects that require students to each create a component that, when put together, will have a larger purpose and deep connections to a disciplinary concept. Some ideas that students have come up with: Design a game and every person in the group makes a game piece; design a town – the town in which the children live, the town from a book they’re reading, a town that includes all of the things that families need to be healthy and happy — and every student designs a building; design parts of a complex system that can be 3D printed and put together as a group — e.g., a cell, an ecosystem, a clock.
  • Design replicas of material artefacts that are connected, in some way, to human activity, or to an historical period. These projects can enable students to empathize with the humans who might have designed these objects in the past, and help students to develop an embodied understanding of human motivations, activities, interests, needs and the design constraints of particular materials, contexts and tools. Further, teachers can invite students to think like archaeologists and historians by having them observe sets of artefacts and abstract key ideas or construct inferences about the ways the artefacts could be used, and therefore about their cultural significance.
  • In math, design shapes. Manipulate dimensions — width, length, height. Write about what happens when dimensions change.
  • In music, design and create instruments. Manipulate dimensions and consider how this changes the sounds the instruments make.
  • Design an object that represents a character, the setting, the plot, or a theme in a novel. Students can share their objects with peers, engage in discussions where other students guess the importance of their object, and then write about their design process as a way to make their thinking and understandings explicit.
  • Create a sense of community by inviting each child to design and print a nameplate for their desk, locker, for a wall of names in your classroom.