Using Free and Open Source Tools to Teach

pielibraryInternet and Web Development

Dec 4, 2013 (4 years and 7 months ago)


Using Free and Open Source Tools to Teach
Digital Citizenship

Donald Watkins

Franklinville Central School

Digital Citizenship has become a hot topic in K
12 and
attendees will gain first hand experience along with
curriculum ideas and curriculum sources for
formulating your school community's own digital
citizenship program.


My interest in cell phones as learning tools began several
years ago.

I lead an effort in our school to encourage responsible
use of cell phones by students.

push back from teachers and administrators

I want to empower students to use powerful tools they
carry in their pockets.

A passion for using open source software
and later free tools in Google Apps with low income

These level the playing field and increase digital

I'm convinced that we spend more time training than

Background continued..

Interest in building online learning communities dating
back to PHPbb about six years ago.

Learned about Moodle in 2005

Setup our first online learning community using Drupal in
2007 for an English APPR project.

Students engaged in learning not limited to school day.

Advocated teaching students how to use social networks to
their advantage. Administrative push back

June 2009

I am summoned to the principal's office for a meeting.

Building principal had a problem

a sexting incident had
occurred and he was looking my way for answers.

I am asked to consider teaching a course that will focus on
technology preparedness that will include the use of cell
phones in an educational setting.

"You know more about 'this stuff' than anyone else on
the faculty."

I ask for the weekend to think about it

After consulting...

Talked to my wife and one other teacher.

Spent the weekend developing a vision of what the course
should be and what I needed to accomplish those goals.

Emphasis on the use of cell phone, social media and other
Web 2.0 tools including Google Apps for Education.

I request permission to attend NECC 2009 in DC.

Meet with school psychologist and other teachers to

Initial thoughts

I want to create a safe school hosted community to teach
the basics of online interaction

I believe that part of the problem involves poor self

Going to leverage my experience with LAMP.

Initially planned to use Drupal for the social platform along
with Google Docs and Mail.

Purchased books on designing social sites with Drupal and
set the server up on a Ubuntu virtual machine in our
VMWare ESX server farm.

More thoughts...

I wanted to create a social community that was safe and
provided students with a place to make mistakes and

First setup a Drupal site, v. 6.14

Read two books on the topic.

Drupal for Education and E
Learning by Bill
Fitzgerald, whose blog I read regularly.

Drupal 6 Social Networking by Michael Peacock

I got a theme for Drupal that gave it a Facebook "look."

Considered using Wikispaces or PBWiki in conjunction with
the Drupal social site.

Decided to use Google Docs and Mail too.

Google Docs

We had been using Google Docs and Mail in our district for
two years.

Learned at NECC 2009 that Google would release Postini
support in mid

Concerns about complying with CIPA and COPPA were
allayed with strong security suite protection.

Began to develop lesson plans for the first three weeks
of instruction that centered around the use of Google

Document sharing and collaboration tools

Website development tools

Presentation, Spreadsheet and Forms.

Great resources

Summer Reading included...

A Whole New Mind: How Right Brainers Will Rule the Future
by Daniel Pink

Malcolm Gladwell


Malcolm Gladwell

Tipping Point

Malcolm Gladwell

Digital Citizenship in Schools

Mike Ribble & Gerald Bailey

Safe Practices for Life Online
Doug Fodeman & Marge

Toys to Tools: Connecting Student Cell Phones to Education
by Liz Kolb

Moodle 1.9 for 7
14 Year Olds

Mary Cooch

Twitter feeds of @lkolb, @rickweinberg, @mcarls,
@innovativeEdu, @willrich45, and many more.

Reading is the key to lifelong

Bob Sutor

Bill Fitzgerald

Peter Reilly

New York Times

Steve O'Connor

Karl Fisch

Will Richardson

Liz Kolb

Lisa Nielsen

Scott McCleod


TED Talks


How am I going to bring all these sites and tools together
"under one roof?"

Late July I decided to move to Moodle. All the tools seem
to be there, but I know very little about Moodle as a
teaching and learning platform.

Scramble to learn.

Where do you find tutorials for Moodle?

ITunes University

Moodle Support

I learned these on the fly as I learned how to use

Moodle Tutorials

iTunes University

Moodle on Youtube is also a
great source of information

Moodling along

Now that I finally had decided on a platform.

Had to learn how to use it.



Six weeks till opening day

What Format?

Moodle has 3 formats.




What format should I choose?

I started with Topic.

Arranged my topics on the 9 aspects of Digital
Citizenship from the Ribble & Bailey book.

Emphasis on self
esteem and
awareness aided by Moodle format

I believe that students suffer from a lack of good self
esteem and that lack of self esteem leads them to take
chances with their reputations.

I structured self
esteem building exercises into each
day's activities.

Each student receives a mirror.

Each student encouraged to tell themselves they "love

Each student must blog two positive things each day.

I also believe that students generally lack an awareness of
the global nature of the internet and cell phone
connectivity. We spend a great deal of time discussing that
and Moodle gives them an opportunity to practice writing

A hybrid format

Instruction in both a face to face and online format..

Moodle aids in the organization of the classroom lecture, but
also serves as a repository of the lecture

materials which
students can return to in study halls, other classes or in
some cases from homes or other community internet access

Moodle facilitates constructivist learning where students can
be exposed to a topic and then actually use tools within
Moodle to learn more or gain experience. The use of daily
blogs aids in student writing, understanding of what is
appropriate in a social network and what constitutes online
safety and even a laboratory for cyber
crime prevention.

Digital Citizenship Defined

Digital Citizenship in Schools

by Mike Ribble & Gerald Bailey
(ISTE Press)

Students engaged in learning

Digital Access

Full electronic participation in society.

" A person who works against injustice, not for individual
recognition or personal advantage, but for the benefit of
all people. In realizing this task

shattering privileges,
ensuring information and competence, acting in favor of

Concept of digital access includes addressing the digital
divide and we use a video from Arne Duncan along

"Did You Know?" followed by classroom discussion
and exercises within Moodle to address this.

Content from PBS Frontline

What it looks like to the student

Digital Communications

The electronic exchange of information and this includes


everyday in Moodle!


Moodle has a wiki and we also used Google Docs


Podcasts with Audacity and

SMS messaging

We search Google with SMS

Electronic Mail

Google Mail accounts for students

How are these technologies changing student lives? What are
the caveats in digital communication? Leaving too much
information on line.

Digital Communication Links

Google SMS on your phone

Google Latitude

Texting while driving

Great Resource for Web 2.0

Google SMS on your phone

Digital Etiquette

The standards of conduct expected by other digital
technology users.

We discuss first what etiquette means and then how do we
apply that in a digital age.

Particular attention is paid the cyber
bullying along with
examples and strategies for dealing with cyber

Using Moodle's Lesson activity students have opportunities
to demonstrate what they know.

Moodle provides great tools like it's chat feature and
forums where students good online conversation can be
modeled and practiced.

Digital Literacy

The capability to use digital technology and knowing when
and how to use it. What isn't a form of digital literacy?

Web 2.0 tools including Google Apps and Mail


We use Moodle's Wiki tools to collaborate and
Google Apps to illustrate how we can collaborate.

We also use Etherpad, which is a really easy tool that
facilitates collaboration.

We used to teach students how to use their
cellphones to create podcasts.

We used Audacity to create podcasts in the classroom.

Google Apps and Mail

I obtained permission from the principal to assign the 7th
graders email accounts in Google Apps for Education.

Postini security within Google Mail gives us an increased
measure of protection.

We discuss email etiquette and we talk about what
constitutes the proper use of email.

Google Apps also allows us to explore document sharing
and collaboration which was very popular with the student
as we developed gift lists.

Students explored form and survey creation and shared
their work.

They loved the Google Sites tool which allowed to easily
create web sites.

Digital rights, responsibilities and the

The legal rights and restrictions governing technology use.

We study about who owns your software.

Material from the Business Software Alliance.

We discuss open source software and students are provided
with a copy of Ubuntu Linux and the Open Disc project at

We study copyright and copyleft and its implications in the
classroom and at home.

We examine plagiarism and what that means and sites like and how they can be helpful.

We discuss the consequences of plagiarism.

We also discuss revision history and how teachers can
easily detect rapidly created work.

The OpenDisc open source
software project. Linux operating system

Digital Health and Wellness

The elements of physical and psychological well being
related to digital technology use.

We study the effects of long term use of technology
including proper posture and conditions like carpal tunnel
syndrome. We also talk about prolonged exposure to
radiation from computers, LCDs and cell phones.

Digital Commerce

The buying and selling of goods online.

Privacy in the digital age is very important. We've talked
about inappropriate messages and inappropriate pictures
but there is another area that is extremely important and
that is safeguarding personal information like social
security numbers, credit card information and other
personal information.

Most of my students don't have credit cards but they can
positively influence parents and older siblings.

Digital Security

The precautions that all technology users must take to
guarantee their personal safety and security on the

We study about virus protection, and provide sites like and where
students and their parents can get good free software to
protect their computers from malware and phishing scams.

We discuss the relative merits of operating systems and
their overall susceptibility to malware.

Google Pack

AVG Free antivirus for Windows

ClamXav for Macintosh

We made some headlines...

Implications and considerations

I became ill for three days and used and Moodle
chat to teach the class from home.

Students loved the interaction and it became a teachable

With the possibility of home instruction due to out of
school suspension or quarantine for medical reasons using
Moodle, Ustream and other technologies create many other

I have not used Twitter with the middle school students
because I am concerned about exposing them un
necessarily to Twitter spam.

I have deliberately tried to introduce as much video
coupled with instruction as possible. They are visual

Your options

Build your own server from scratch

Use a virtual machine like Turnkey Linux

Enlist the aid of BOCES

Use a private host like Hostgator at

Resource me... or

My open source blog




Google Wave: dgdubya