Module 6: Modeling

The Best Way to Learn a Topic…

Modeling is a valuable tool for the creative in that it permits one to make concrete the most essential elements of a system, along with the possibilities of mapping, transforming and scaling, thereby making accessible something that might otherwise be difficult to experience. In short, it is a method for accessing the inaccessible.

Digital Citizenship in 3D

click the image to view a short video of the model

For this project, I chose to create a model wherein I mapped three categories from the topic of Digital Citizenship (Respect Oneself/Respect Others, Educate Oneself/Communicate with Others, and Protect Oneself/Protect Others) onto the three dimensions of space. Within each dimension are subtopics which are both specific to that dimension and have cross-dimensional influence or interaction. For example, the subtopic of Etiquette in the Respect dimension has specific implications for the subtopic of Communication in the Educate/Communicate dimension (e.g., proper internet etiquette facilitates effective communication online) as well as being a primary component of the Rights & Responsibilities subtopic in the Protect dimension (e.g., proper etiquette is an important part of the responsible use of shared online resources).

As a Tech Coach, I have found that the nine primary topics associated with Digital Citizenship can be challenging for administrators, parents and teachers to remember. A 3D graphic of the topics mapped onto 3 specific and well-labelled dimensions gives everyone a model to more easily visualize, retain and manipulate within their minds. Furthermore, within the model, the color of each dimension connects directly with the primary characteristics of the dimension. For example, the Respect dimension is the floor because respect is the basis of all citizenship, but it is blue as respect should be a calming act both within oneself and between people and blue is the color of tranquility. On the other hand, the Protect dimension is red, the color typical of warnings and alerts. Lastly, the Educate/Communicate dimension is green to characterize the growth associated with new learning.

As mentioned above, subtopics from one dimension can have implications for subtopics in other dimensions. To give this concept a visual boost, during the video I have selectively highlighted subtopics in groups of three to be taught together, one from each dimension.

I think the most significant aspect of this project for me was actually needing to create the model. While I still believe the finished product can be a useful tool for teaching others about digital citizenship, I am certain that the creative process of developing the model itself was pivotal in enhancing my own understanding of this topic. While I knew a good bit about digital citizenship before creating the model, the process of figuring out how to map the topics to the dimensions forced me to examine my understanding on the deepest level thus far. For me, the old adage, “The best way to learn a topic is to teach it” could equally be replaced with “The best way to learn a topic is to model it.”

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