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As educators, we desire to instill ethics in students that will guide them on a path to good, appropriate behavior and propel them to be upstanding members of society. With such a great percentage of students’ lives spent online, strong digital citizenship instruction is crucial; it is how we address ethical behavior as it pertains to students’ online activity. Sometimes mere guidelines and principles are not enough. Sometimes the force of law is required to ensure members of society do the right thing.

The creation of the internet and the digitization of so much intellectual content such as books, music, software, movies and images make the need for strong copyright laws more important now than ever. In three clicks (right click, copy, paste) I can steal someone’s intellectual property that might have taken him or her a lot of money, time, and effort to create.

We see the importance of copyright of intellectual property playing out in geopolitics today. The president of the United States has engaged the country in a trade war against China. In addition to currency manipulation, one of the strongest reasons this administration provides for levying tariffs is China’s flouting of copyright laws. It puts the United States at an unfair disadvantage and robs the original creators of the intellectual property when Chinese companies—owned and run by the Chinese government—ignore copyright and patents to create their own products using the intellectual property created by U.S. companies.

What’s the big deal? So what if I use an image, a song, or a clip of a movie to enhance a piece of multimedia without getting permission, paying a royalty, or providing proper attribution to the original creators? How is that harmful? I think we can all agree that intellectual property has value (otherwise, why else would someone want to use it?), and that property required time, effort, and money to create. Without protections for these types of property, there would be no motivation for artists, musicians, directors, or anyone else creating intellectual property to create it.

Back in 1999, a college student by the name of Sean Parker created a peer-to-peer file sharing application that within a couple short years would completely upend the music industry. The program—called Napster—allowed anyone in the world with internet access and the program installed on their computer to share music files with each other. Now, instead of the old practice of copying a cassette tape from a friend or burning a copy of a CD, you had “peers” all over the world with whom you could share or copy their files to your own computer. In essence, this “file sharing” was music stealing in that it deprived musicians (and record companies) access to royalties based on the sale of those music files.

Napster is a perfect example of how new technology can make it easy to circumvent copyright laws. Sadly, appealing to people’s sense of fairness did not tamp down on the practice of sharing files in this manner. It was through the use of copyright laws and record companies demanding the assistance of internet service providers to identify and send cease and desist orders to individuals engaging in the practice to make it stop. In time, legitimate companies such as Apple capitalized on the distribution problem Napster solved, but set up a clearinghouse in which the creators of intellectual property could be properly compensated.



Copyright and Fair Use. Common Sense Education. (September 2014). YouTube URL:

Transformations Brought on By Technology and How They Impact Us

tech transformation
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If, in the year 2000, you were to have told me that in 19 years that 67 percent of human beings would walk around with access to all the world’s knowledge in their pocket or purse? Need to know how to prepare lobster bisque? Pull out your web-enabled device, input a brief search phrase, and, voila! You have countless recipes from which to choose to impress your dinner guests. Need to settle an argument about who won the 1976 World Series? The answer is a few clicks away. Can’t figure out how to replace the windshield wipers on your specific make and model automobile? Guess what. You can pull up a video that provides step-by-step instructions. Access to information is just the beginning of how the world has changed so profoundly within the last 20 years. Who fully appreciated that banking, mapping destinations, viewing, creating, and sharing video content, calculators, flashlights, file storage, music players, social networks, ride-hailing services, and on and on would all be contained within a device that virtually everyone uses? It’s mind boggling. I feel like how my grandparents must have felt seeing automobiles revolutionize the world.

Yet with all this magnificent technology, I worry about the impact on young people of being constantly connected through such a device. I’m the father of an 18-year-old and a 16-year-old. Their phones are their lifelines to their friends, their entertainment and in some cases, their academic lives. It’s the social implements of the phone that concern me. I worry what the constant bombardment of peers posting glimpses of their “best lives” does to all members of their social network. The pressure kids must feel to project happiness—even when you’re not feeling especially happy—must be unrelenting. As an old codger, if I’m honest with myself, I feel hints of these pressures, and I don’t have a tenth of the social pressures a high schooler has these days.

Another way our attachment to our devices is could be construed as negative is that our reliance on them can result in minimizing real face-to-face interactions with people in the physical world as opposed to interactions that occur on a digital screen. Have you observed a group of teenagers lately? It is not uncommon to see them all sitting in close proximity to one another not saying a word and completely engrossed with what is on their devices. This situation is so common it’s a cliché image today. In 2011, CNN reported that one third of Americans prefer texts to voice calls. That percentage is certain to have increased drastically since then. We can speculate why texting would be preferred—it doesn’t require an immediate reply; you can formulate your thoughts before replying—but whatever the reason, it is indicative of a diminishment of real-time human interaction.

For these reasons and myriad others, strong digital citizenship education is so crucial. And the time to implement this education with young people about what it means to be a good digital citizen and to be mindful of their digital footprint is now. We need to instill in our children and our students that what we post online is with us forever. Now, when they are young and the slate is clean, is the time for them to appreciate the implications of their online activity—to be intentional about their digital footprint.

We must encourage thought-provoking, kind, goal-oriented, helpful posts that add value to their social networks. Posts that contribute to the knowledge base and extend comfort to their group, all the while encouraging them that it is still fun and appropriate to communicate in person.


Lenhart, A. (2015). Teen, social media and technology overview 2015. The Pew Research Center. Retrieved from

Digital Citizenship

digital citizenship
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With new knowledge, comes a responsibility to change our thinking and assess what we teach the new generation so that they can be safe and productive and further advance knowledge for humankind.

When Galileo proved that Earth was not the center of the known universe–that the earth, in fact, revolved around the sun–it was, quite literally, a cosmic shift in thinking that required looking at the heavens in an entirely new way. When automobiles began to grow in popularity, the rules of the road for horse and buggy had to be revisited and overhauled to take into account the enhanced functionality of this new mode of transportation. Every day, advancements in science and medicine force doctors and researchers to reevaluate their methods and align them with the new knowledge they possess.

Now, as technology aids in the ever-accelerating development of all these fields—astronomy, transportation, and medicine—astronomers, logisticians, and doctors all must be willing and inclined to embrace change and adapt to it. We in education are not immune to the changes brought on by new technology. And like the aforementioned professions, we must be willing to change, too. This need to carefully examine how we prepare students to become good digital citizens is perhaps one of the most pressing changes educators face.

As an educator in his late 40s, I remember clearly when students did not have access to an online environment. Using cutting-edge technology meant utilizing a transparency overhead projector, or CD player or television or word processor. Web 2.0 tools that would soon unleash the possibilities for communication, research, and demonstration of learning were still non-existent. As these resources slowly developed, it forced educators, thinkers and futurists to assess and prescribe rules and standards by which to operate.

Few would argue that technological advancements have changed the world profoundly over the last 25 years (since I began my career in education). What you might get some disagreement about is the need for educators to teach digital citizenship so that the new generation is equipped to operate effectively and honorably in this relatively new environment.

Thanks to the work of scholars such as Mike Ribble, educators have a map for charting a course for digital citizenship instruction. Ribble defines digital citizenship as “the continuously developing norms of appropriate, responsible, and empowered technology use.” Ribble identifies nine areas that comprise a digital citizenry. Briefly, they are as follows:

  1. Digital Access—Stresses the importance for each member of a digital society have a baseline of access to digital resources, with the goal being full access.
  2. Digital Commerce—With the ubiquity of the online world, it is only natural that more and more business will be conducted online. Digital citizens need to be adept at buying and selling in an online environment.
  3. Digital Communication—Be it via email, text message, message boards, video conferencing, Skype calling, etc., digital citizens must know how to effectively communicate online.
  4. Digital Literacy—As new technologies emerge, digital citizens must be aware of how these changes impact their lives online. From communication to banking to entertainment to education, the digital world changes fast. We have to keep up.
  5. Digital Etiquette—Etiquette speaks to expectations for living in a respectful, productive society. Just because something is not against the law, doesn’t mean it’s okay to do. This is true not only in the physical world, but online as well.
  6. Digital Law—There are ways to break the law online. Digital citizens need to be aware of the laws, particularly in the realm of copyright, to avoid breaking them.
  7. Digital Rights and Responsibilities—This area of digital citizenship reinforces the previous two—law and etiquette. It is important to know what can and cannot be done to you, just as you must know what you are legally permitted to do and not do; additionally, know what you should and should not do.
  8. Digital Health and Wellness—Just as with any activity, being online comes with physical and psychological concerns. Ergonomics, eye strain, social isolation are just a few examples of how we should concern ourselves with our digital health and wellness.
  9. Digital Security—At the end of the day, not everyone online is practicing good digital citizenship. Therefore, we must be vigilant about protecting our data and valuable information online.

Each of these areas address an important principle relevant to citizenship in general and applicable to digital citizenship: Respect for yourself and others; educate yourself and connect with others; protect yourself and protect others.

As computers and technology play more roles in our lives and we spend more time online, we must instruct students to be cognizant and good practitioners of digital citizenship.


Marshall, T.H. (1950). Citizenship and social class: and other essays. Cambridge, MA: University Press.

Ohler, J. (2010). Digital community: Digital Citizen. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

Ribble, M. (2015). Digital citizenship in schools: Nine elements all students should know (3rd ed.). Eugene, OR: International Society for Technology in Education

On-line Course Reflection

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Course 5318 of Lamar University’s Digital Learning and Leading program provided me with an opportunity to create an online course. This course augmented the innovation plan I devised early in the program. My innovation plan involves leveraging new technology tools and software to create virtual work-place environments and 360-degree tours for students in Career and Technical Education courses.

In designing this course, I relied on the Constructivist learning theory, which is to say learners construct meaning from their experiences. The activities built into my course required the learner to perform tasks and then reflect on what they had done. I tried to inject an element of social accountability through discussion boards and gave learners leeway with regard to the subject of their virtual tours.

I have thought about and designed lessons—primarily for professional development—with a UbD mindset for so long now, it is second nature to me to begin with the end in mind. From the first unit of this course, I laid out what the end goal is: create a library of virtual worksite tours. The lessons that follow are designed backward to take the learner to that eventual outcome.

It is clear that online learning will only grow exponentially. The freedom it offers in terms of scheduling make it a much more flexible format for delivering instruction. As teachers at heart, we wonder will the lack of face-to-face interaction with learners detract substantially from the course? After taking this course, and building my own online course, I can honestly say that with the technology available to conduct courses on line, little is lost by not being in an in-person environment. From web-conferencing software to conduct synchronous meetings with learners, to web 2.0 tools learners can use to demonstrate their learning, I am astounded by the benefits to online learning. The Bates text and the OSCQR standards have been invaluable resources.

Seeing all the criteria for a well-developed course laid out in one document causes one to realize just how much goes into creating an on-line course. Having conducted this self-assessment, it is clear how lacking my course is. I think I’ve done a decent job introducing my course and its purpose. I also provided a variety of activities for learners to demonstrate their learning. I really need to go back an beef up elements of accessibility and feedback.

Bates, T. (2015) Teaching in a Digital Age: Guidelines for Designing Teaching and Learning. Retrieved from

Standards for Professional Learning. (2015) Retrieved from

Online Course Development

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My most recent course in the Digital Learning and Leading program that my cohort is rapidly moving through has us developing online courses in a Learning Management System. The online course that I am developing coincides with my Innovation Plan, which involves using new technology to create virtual work site tours for Career and Technical Education students. In the course, I take the learner through the process of creating a virtual tour Please take a look at my Schoology online course. You can register as a student and take the course here. When prompted, use access code: 3736-V4ZX-6F46Q. I’d love to receive your feedback in the comments.

Online Course Transformations

I work in the Career and Technical Education department in the district office. Our department creates many professional development sessions for CTE instructors. Two PD courses that stand out to me as having great potential of being effective in an online setting are CTE 101 and CTSOs and Work-based Learning.

These professional development CTE courses have several objectives:

  • Getting teachers to understand the importance of career exploration before students are thrust into the world without having given any focused thought to the matter. “Careers by Choice, not Chance,” as a colleague of mine likes to call it.
  • Reviewing instructional best practices—particularly important for new teachers who have great industry experience but often little to no classroom experience
  • Safety and Classroom Management
  • Earning Industry-Based Certifications.
  • Compliance Issues—Because CTE is a federally funded program, there are compliance issues all teachers and administrators need to be aware of, i.e. seat time requirements, and teacher certification.
  • What is a recognized Career and Technical Student Organization, and how does one sponsor a chapter on a campus?
  • Work-Based Learning (WBL) has the potential to transform students’ lives by allowing them to see, first-hand, what work in a particular industry involves. There are many rules and regulations that govern WBL.

Learning around all these issues and others are well suited to be delivered in an online format.



Action Research

eye_searchAction Research is a methodical process that requires planning, acting, developing and reflecting. When done thoughtfully and with attention to detail, it greatly increases the likelihood of successfully implementing an innovation plan. My Innovation Proposal seeks to employ new, affordable technology to create virtual job site experiences in the Career and Technical Education classroom, but how do I know that this is a plan worth pursuing? I had to research, more specifically, I had to do action research. Action research forces the practitioner to be clear about his/her focus, the purpose of the research, and the specific research question one is trying to answer. It mandates that thought be given to research design, the data to be collected, the measurement instrument used to assess the data, and what the focus of the literature one seeks out should be. You can review the process I engaged in to plan the implementation of my innovation proposal and how I intend to examine my results by viewing the following three documents:

Action Research Outline
Literature Review
Action Research Plan

Innovation Plan Revisited


The assigned readings from this course, 5314, Digital Learning in Local and Global Contexts, which examined technology integration initiatives, combined with my own research of virtual reality in the classroom, have led me to conclude that, in some instances, I was on the right track with my Innovation Plan, but I must do some retooling  in certain areas if I want it to be successful. Having studied the experiences of others will undoubtedly aid me in the implementation of my plan.

I think I have always been clear about my why—preparing students for high-skill, high-wage and high-demand occupations within the career and technical education programs throughout my district. I learned by reading many of the case studies that being cognizant and in sync with one’s mission is critical if one’s plan is to be a success.

I also feel as though I have a clear vision of what successful implementation looks like in my district: Specific career clusters will create and be able to use the virtual environments that they and their colleagues create. The result will be an online repository of these virtual environments that students across the district will be able to access.

My innovation plan needs to be reworked to provide more guidance on the technical aspects of creating these virtual environment experiences. For example, my innovation plan does not adequately explain or provide opportunities for end users to understand the interface and navigational designs of a virtual environment. Furthermore, my research has informed me that technical quality in such aspects as image clarity, pan, zoom, and the stitching of multiple images are enormously important to creating a believable environment (Ausburn 2019).

When embarking on an innovation plan, it is not enough to justify it by stating that it incorporates cutting-edge technology. Rather, it is critical that the justification for such a plan be backed up by research and best practices. The case studies presented in this course provided the insight into the types of questions I should be asking and the pitfalls to avoid during my implementation.


Literature Review

Innovation Plan

Call to Action

Please click on the picture below to view the video of my Call to Action. This call to action is in reference to my innovation plan and is mindful of the lessons learned in the readings and research I have done for the Digital Learning in Local and Global Contexts course I am currently taking.

Call to Action 

Learning Networks

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Professional Learning Networks are invaluable forums for learning and leading in fields of study. Aided by technology, these networks can be among peers within a building or educators with similar interests throughout the world.

I would characterize my involvement in online professional learning networks heretofore as being much more of a consumer than producer. My experience has been to absorb and benefit from the insight and expertise of the contributors of the PLNs I follow.

Here you will find an annotated list of the PLNs most helpful to me and my learning:

Texas Computer Education Association) is a global, nonprofit, member-based organization. We support the use of technology in education. Founded in 1980, TCEA has been playing a vital role in increasing technology funding and access for PreK-16 schools for 38 years. Our 13,000-member association is led by a grassroots board of directors—all professional educators. TCEA’s resources support educators in the field who are enhancing curriculum with digital tools. The Technology Coordinators Special Interest Group (TEC-SIG) is a fantastic forum for sharing information.

From its website, ISTE is  home to a passionate community of global educators who believe in the power of technology to transform teaching and learning, accelerate innovation and solve tough problems in education. ISTE inspires the creation of solutions and connections that improve opportunities for all learners by delivering: practical guidance, evidence-based professional learning, virtual networks, thought-provoking events and the ISTE Standards.

I manage two accounts: one personal–@dwthurman–which I very rarely post to, and Houston ISD’s Career Readiness feed–@HoustonCCR. The Career Readiness feed is mostly used to hi-light events and accomplishments of the campus CTE programs around the district. Through my membership in TCEA, I found and have been keen to follow two individuals from the Ed Tech community: Kathy Schrock @KathySchrock and Miguel Guhlin @mguhlin.

Through my involvement in the Digital Learning and Leading masters program at Lamar University, I am a member of the Digital Learning and Leading Facebook group. From the About page: Digital Learning and Leading (DLL) Facebook Group is the place were students in the Lamar University Masters of Digital Learning and Leading program can connect and collaborate as they work toward using technology to enhance learning. The DLL Facebook Group is also the place where students and graduates of the DLL program can work together to help create significant learning environments (CSLE) that give learners choice, ownership and voice through authentic (COVA) learning opportunities.

MS Teams
MS Teams is included in my district’s Office 365 adoption. It is an excellent tool for collaborating. You can have conversations in a FB-type format, you can exchange links and files, and you can conduct a video broadcast of a training. The system allows you to tag people so that relevant info in a large team finds the appropriate person. My department is using MS Teams as a tool for organizing and disseminating content specific to the different career clusters at our beginning-of-the-year professional development. My hope is that teachers who teach the same course but who are on different campuses can use this tool to collaborate throughout the year. If anyone in the DLL program has access to this MS Teams and would like an introduction to using it, you can link to my getting started guide here.

Book Study
Within Career and Technical Education department I work in, we take part in book studies to improve our practice. A book we read recently was The Smartest Kids In The World by Amanda Ripley.

Professional Learning: A Call to Action

The video presentation of my Professional Learning Call to Action can be found by clicking on the image below:

Boring presentation
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When sitting down to create my Call to Action Professional Learning video presentation, I wanted to accomplish four main objectives:

  • Acknowledge the lack-luster impact professional development often has on its audience.
  • Present the vision for this professional learning series. This vision includes the WHY of its importance.
  • Briefly touch on the five principles of effective professional development.
  • Finally, I sought to re-justify the vision, restate the Why, and call my colleagues to action.

I began with hyperbolic reactions educators exhibit at the prospect of enduring a professional development session. I inserted a still of audience members sleeping as an attempt at humor to add some levity to the tone of the presentation.

Next, I tried to relate to my audience of CTE teachers and instructional technologists. I wanted to get them thinking about the power of their own good ideas to better education, and to see the futility of these ideas if they go unexpressed or acted on.

I then turned to the professional learning at hand and explained the necessity for it. I tried to appeal to their Why in the sense of identifying logistical issues we can all relate to, but, all the while, insisting that we overcome those obstacles for the sake of our students’ education. I also took this opportunity to include my navigating within 360-degree photographs of actual CTE relevant job sites, so they would have an idea of the end product this PD will produce.

Finally, I reiterated the challenge before us and why executing this professional learning series will benefit our students—retouching on the Why and following the ebb and flow model articulated by Duarte. I end the presentation with a final summarizing thought about effective professional learning.

References used in the creation of my video presentation and this explanation:

Gulamhussein, A. (2013). Teaching the teachers effective professional development in an era of high stakes accountability. Center for Public Education. Retrieved from

Daniels, K. (2013). Empowering the teacher technophobe. [Video]. TEDxBurnsvilleED. Retrieved from YouTube,

Duarte, N. (2010, December 10). Nancy Duarte uncovers common structure of the greatest communicators 11/11/2010 [Video file]. Retrieved from

Sinek, S. (2015, May 5). How to begin your presentation [Video file]. Retrieved from