Editor’s Note: Beyond Technology Education provides high-quality technology resources and support for schools. Their mapped curriculum resources can be pulled into a Curriculum Trak account. Explore their summer training program here.
“God wants us to be in community. And part of being a citizen is being a contributor to that community. And so what this next generation is is already showing us, their community is going to be their online spaces. I hope that people go back to church and go back to youth group and start getting involved again in those areas. But we also know that that online community is here. […] And so how can we teach our children and our students in our classroom to be the salt and light in the online spaces? That’s really important.” – Lauralyn Vasquez
The following transcript has been edited for clarity and brevity. Listen to the full podcast episode here or using the player below.
Michael Arnold: Lauralyn Vasquez visits The Teacher’s Lounge today to talk to us about technology and education. Lauralyn is the Product Manager and Curriculum Director for Beyond Technology Education, a K-12 technology resource, and one of the latest content providers to Curriculum Trak, a publisher partner with Curriculum Trak.
Lauralyn has wide-ranging experience in both K-12 and adult learning, with technology, team building, leadership development, and even pastoral ministry, and she’ll probably share some of that with us today as well. She is currently the Secondary Chaplain and middle school Bible teacher at Rancho Christian school in Temecula, California. She’s a wife of 32 years with three adult daughters, and she says there’s always an adventure going on in her house, whether it’s planning to go hiking, sharing great meals, or visiting with friends. Lauralyn’s also an author, and yet somehow found time to join us today and I’m glad that she did. Welcome, Lauralyn!
Lauralyn Vasquez: Thank you for having me.
Michael Arnold: Well, it’s our pleasure. There’s a lot of experience to unpack, and even before we started recording our conversation, we were talking about more things that we could dig into. And I’m sure that I missed something, as far as your background and your experience. What else would be helpful for us to know before we start talking about technology?
Lauralyn Vasquez’s professional background
Lauralyn Vasquez: Well, I have been in education for 30 plus years. I started off in technology as a young college kid who wasn’t doing well in education, at that time in my own education. And I walked into the Apple store and in the Apple store, there were these computers that I – I’d seen computers before, but I’d come to school with a typewriter, right? I’m aging myself. And I walked into there, met the rep and I walked out with a computer. That was unbelievable. I was ready to sell my car to have a computer, and sure enough, my grades increased. I was able to compete in a way that I hadn’t before. So I knew educational technology 30 years ago would be a game changer.
I also had a heart for the marginalized, a heart for those who are struggling. My first job was working at a juvenile hall. And I worked at a juvenile hall and I was this tiny little thing, with these big, scary kids. But I just loved on them and tried to teach them what I could.
And from there, worked at boarding schools around the country. So my husband and I actually launched boarding schools for runaway teenagers. And I was one of the curriculum writers. At that time, there was a fantastic team. And another couple were the head of the schools at that time, and they brought my husband and I on and along with them in their adventures.
And we wrote curriculum. The curriculum we were writing wasn’t the academic curriculum. We had teachers for that. But I was writing what we would today call SEL, but at that time I just called it: good, healthy living. And I would use the Beatitudes as my background on how we’re to live and how we’re to teach these students to live. They may not have known it, you know, we had kids from all different faiths and backgrounds, but, the word of God never goes void; and that’s what I used as my template.
Michael Arnold: Yeah, that’s amazing. You at least agreed with me when I called you a curriculum nerd earlier; so you enjoy it. And that’s a great term in my mind; I wear that with pride. I love curriculum and it sounds like you do too, and the opportunity to write and to share and to help other people understand things is definitely within your wheelhouse.
Vasquez’s role as a chaplain at Rancho Christian
Michael Arnold: And I can’t get over the fact that you’re bringing that into the Bible classroom, but also as a chaplain there at Rancho Christian, trying to shepherd students, not only academically but also spiritually. What are some of the other things that you’ve helped do at your school at Rancho Christian?
Lauralyn Vasquez: Well, I helped, I was one of the founders of our robotics team. We’re a FIRST Robotics, our high school team. And so I was asked by one of the primary investors and founders if I would come join her. We went to all these trainings, and I fell in love with FIRST Robotics. Cause again, here’s this life-ready skill, using technology that kids can get excited about. Like I was with my first computer, they are with robotics. And it truly is, I can’t shout out FIRST Robotics enough on how they equip kids for life and have fun around technology. So we helped launch that. There’s all kinds of facets to it. We did that.
We established a one-to-one program in the school when nobody else was doing one-to-one, and it was a little intimidating and scary, but we did it, and that program is still strong. Our middle schoolers have iPads and the high school students bring their own devices. And it’s, it’s been great because what I’ve said is we turn the “yuck” into “yum.” And there’s a lot of “yuck” on the world of the internet today, right? And parents are afraid and kids get in trouble, and “yuck” happens.
So we get to guide our students towards the yum, and guide our parents towards it from K through 12. Today, I was working with some high school kids. I’m teaching them how to write a sermon. And this kid’s Chinese and he doesn’t know if he really believes in Jesus. And as we’re talking it through, I’m asking him to just Google a few things: some historical facts, some Scripture. And you know, here he is using technology and it’s actually teaching him the Gospel. I’m pointing him to it, right? I’m showing them the “yum” of the Gospel and his mind is getting blown in it, and it’s just so exciting. That goes back to my curriculum nerdiness that I love. Like, oh my gosh, I can pull this in and pull that in and make this really fun for the kids.
Going back to teaching during the height of Covid-19
Michael Arnold: You stepped back into the classroom during COVID or just prior to COVID. You were on the pastoral side at your church for a while, but then stepped back. Tell us about that.
Lauralyn Vasquez: So I was a pastor for eight to nine years. I was a small group pastor. I’m a connector; I love to connect people and draw them together. And when COVID happened, small groups stopped. We had a lot of small groups meeting, but it looked different. They weren’t meeting at the church.They were meeting around town. People are meeting at parks and all kinds of places, but just because of the nature of it and at the same time we had teachers leaving the school.
I have a Master’s in education. It was an appropriate fit for me to go back at a time when frankly, we weren’t having a lot of stuff happening on our campus. So it was really tough to go back into the classroom. Even though the kids are beautiful, the staff you work with, right? That’s why we’re teachers, because of the students and the staff that we are with.
So it was an adjustment when coming back with kids who’ve been out of school and the pain and the heartache and the trauma that they’ve endured was really rough. Then you had some kids that were homeschooled because they all were homeschooled technically for a bit.
But just the nuances: we have seventh graders that are two years behind and this is what the United States – I’m sure worldwide, even – is enduring. How do we catch our kids up? How do we get back to some kind of normalcy? If there’s such a thing, amidst this, whatever you call it.
Explosion of technology use in education due to Covid-19
Michael Arnold: Maybe you have a different perspective on this, but it seems to me that one of the things that COVID and our response to it brought about was an even greater explosion in the use of technology in our education. I think a lot of educators were kind of forcing themselves to integrate technology into their lessons because it was the right thing to do. It’s a necessary thing to do. But during COVID we had no choice. But at the same time, it seemed like the use of technology, but also the resources in technology exploded during that time as well, like everyone wanted to get in on supporting education. And so we have all kinds of apps and access to all kinds of things.
Give us just a brief overview from your perspective of what technology education looks like today, and some of the things that schools are still struggling with when it comes to technology, even post-COVID.
Lauralyn Vasquez: Yeah. I don’t know, but you did hit on something. So much was thrown at teachers. And at Rancho Christian, we were prepared for the moment. Our kids were already one-to-one. Our teachers were already trained, our professional development BTE, Beyond Technology Education had come in and trained our teachers at the very beginning. So we had some things in place, but even with that – so say you are a school and you’re like, we’re good to go. Or a school that really just struggled and had to jump on board quick. So much was thrown at you at once. All of a sudden, everybody became an app, right? I’ve got this, I’ve got that. I’ve got this, I got that.
And when you’re designing curriculum, you want to have a scope and sequence. You want to have it make sense, not just for maybe that lesson, but for, you know, your whole scope and sequence. This is a great app, but how does this fit into our pedagogy? How does this fit into how I’m going to teach in the classroom? What’s my methodology on using this technology?
And so what I saw was teachers just overwhelmed. And then a parent would come, “Hey, why aren’t you using this app?” Or another teacher would say, “Hey, at this school, I heard about this app.” And there was really no one helping guide them through. You might have a tech team, but the tech team aren’t necessarily educators, so they’re trying to research. “This one fits with our whatever, right? It’ll fit on our network. It seems safe.” And so, okay. Go for it. But they’re not educators. They don’t know how it’s going to fit in the whole scope and sequence of that course or in the plan of the school.
So that was one of the big difficulties that I saw and I still see now even going back into the classroom, what technology do we use? And what is it that students need to learn?
So I can throw technology – I have a 3D printer in my classroom; I had it for the first semester, and I kept trying to figure out how I can use this technology for Bible. And, you know, as cool as that sounded, I really never found a way. I could make bookmarks, right? The kids can make crosses, but the integration needs to make sense for that class, that teacher, the school all around. The robotics team is having a blast with the 3d printer. Our design classes, so as much as I wanted to use it in my classroom, it didn’t really make sense. And I think that is the big question that teachers and parents have to really stop and think through. What’s the end goal with our technology? Whereas if we want to get our kids, for me, I say life-ready and college-ready – that actually is the theme of our school. But I think you’re seeing more and more companies and schools saying, “If our kids aren’t life ready, and if they’re not college ready, then what was the point of that education?”
Michael Arnold: Yeah. Well, it has to serve the student. We don’t want the students to serve the technology, right?
Lauralyn Vasquez: Right.
Defining digital citizenship
Michael Arnold: One of the things that I started to worry about on the other side as a parent during that time, and I had young kids who had a lot of technology thrown at them. I’m like, this is coming so fast that I don’t know as a parent that I’m able to keep up with everything that my kids are being asked to do. So I have to trust the teachers that they’re checking out these sites. Are my kids equipped to be the online learners that they need to be? What role can I play in supporting them, but also making sure that they’re safe? I think the biggest fear on my part was, I don’t know what I don’t know. I can assume that this is a kid-targeted site; it’s YouTube for kids so it’s probably safe. But is it?
So that kind of gets us into digital citizenship a little bit. How can we protect our kids? And how can we shepherd our kids, even as we invite them to the world that they have access to through their fingers.
Lauralyn Vasquez: Yeah. That’s a really good question that we need to continually be asking, because in every facet of life, how are we shepherding our kids? I go back to the childhood songs, as well as an adult lifeguard. Your heart, when we’re looking at that we first got to acknowledge what it means to be a digital citizen. We’re all citizens of cities, of towns. The question is: are we a healthy contributor, solid, good citizen? Or are we a taking-away, unhealthy, destructive citizen? And so as adults, it has to start with us. How am I contributing to my city, my country, my faith, my family, all the areas that you are a citizen of, right? That you are a member of. How are you contributing? Or are you taking away?
When parents and educators can start and really wrestle with that: how is it that I’m giving back to the world, paying it forward, caring for others. When we see citizens of a war-torn country risking their lives to protect other people, we go, “Oh, that’s a good citizen.” It’s the same in online spaces. So as parents, we have to look at what kind of citizen are we.
And COVID really unmasked some ugliness of online citizenship. And here are good people – I’m one of them – but I found myself getting so riled up that I’m like, “Oh wait, this is not being a good citizen. This is not being patient and kind; and being the peacemaker and blessed are the meek.” Go through all the Beatitudes. So it has to start with us.
Now you’re a parent at home with the kids at home. What does it mean to be a good citizen, modeling it for my kids? And then how do I teach my kids to be a good citizen? And as an instructor, as a teacher we’re having to teach our students how to be very safe and to be contributors to the online world and not suck from the online world, take things out.
Michael Arnold: Yeah. And how powerful that some of those biblical lessons that we try to incorporate in faith-based education, in so many other ways, fit so nicely into technology. You know, the golden rule, “Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you,” and so forth. And that fits on that contributor side.
But what about resiliency and wisdom and discernment when it comes to how do we equip our students to know what they’re getting into? And is that part of, I’m sure that would be part of digital citizenship as well.
Lauralyn Vasquez: So digital citizenship has a lot of facets, right? So one, you’ve got to make the decision that you’re going to be a good digital citizen. And then there’s all the little nuances that go with it. I always say, I start with families on understanding digital safety, right? Why is it important to have passwords? As an adult, you don’t have the same password for your banking account as you have for your email. We just know that there’s solid practices that we have in being safe with our stuff.
And especially right now with what’s going on in the world they’re talking about the cyber attacks, whether that’s going to be personal or national, how all that works. Bottom line is there’s people trying to attack our information all the time. Yet, we can still be online and be very safe. There are safeguards we teach our students too – what is personal, what’s private, and what’s public. And we’re teaching our littles this in kindergarten, first grade, because they want to go to school and tell their kids all, tell their friends, “Look, this is what happened,” with mommy and daddy! So we’re teaching our children exactly: this is private, this is personal information. And then this is public information. Well, we do the same thing online, right? This is your private, and this is public.
So we’re teaching at the same time about pictures. We can post pictures of you holding that cute little puppy that you have, but remember what part of that picture that’s going to have your address on it. Is it going to be geocached? Is it going to be able to be located somewhere? Some of the stuff we think is really cool, like, look, it says right where I am, but we have to, again, okay, so wait a minute. Our children are younger. They’re not me.
If people know my address – actually, I don’t want people to know my address. So I’ve done things to protect that, but some people are way more public than I am. And I’m a pretty public person, but there’s certain things I want private. So we’re doing the same thing with the identity of our children, and protecting them.
So I’ve got my first grandbaby coming along the way. And I’ve instilled this in my kids somehow. Maybe it’s just this next generation is really understanding the importance of privacy, but she doesn’t want her child’s name out there. So we’ve got a separate name that we call “baby E.” So she can share pictures with her family and friends. It’s not on social media; she’s got an album that’s going to be private. So they’re finding more ways to still share the fun of social media, but be protected and guarded.
The passwords and the private information, the personal information, the photographs, your property – so we’re teaching these things to kids at a young age, how to be a healthy, strong digital citizen, how to be protected from things like viruses.The kids, they pick up on it pretty quick, when that warning signal comes up, “Mom, Mom, Mom!” Or “Teacher, Teacher, Teacher!” Schools are having to wrestle with this, schools are needing to have their IT up to speed. And we’ve been really blessed with a pretty phenomenal IT department, but things happen.
Faith-based schools are unprepared to use technology in the classroom
Michael Arnold: You get the chance to work with a lot of schools around the country through your work with Beyond Technology. What would you say is the overall state of digital citizenship and protecting your network and so forth in a faith-based school in general, if you had to give an estimate?
Lauralyn Vasquez: Well, I would say most schools aren’t prepared. They’re trying to nickel and dime it, which I understand – we all are, right?
Michael Arnold: Yeah.
Lauralyn Vasquez: Now with inflation going, I feel really bad for these poor administrators. Even though parents think, “I’m paying so much,” it costs a lot to run a school. And so I understand that, but you’ve got to pour into your infrastructure. That’s really important, to be able to have that set up. We partner with a company that is just fantastic at helping the schools set up their infrastructure and get formation tech, everything that they need from computers to network to having it all set up.
But then it’s also pouring into the curriculum and making sure that the right thing is being taught and not just a spattering, “Oh, I need to teach about passwords, oh, I need to teach about your pictures.” But really have it thought out so that when the kids graduate, they have a really solid handle, K through 12, they’ve got a solid handle on digital citizenship, how to protect themselves and be kind to others.
Overlooked and under-explored issues within digital citizenship
Michael Arnold: As you think about the whole scope of what digital citizenship entails, do you think that there are certain aspects that are more overlooked or under-explored with school-aged children than others? And if so what are some of those things that maybe would be surprising for people to hear should be part of your digital citizenship curriculum?
Lauralyn Vasquez: Yeah, I don’t think we talk enough about the actual definition of what it means to be a citizen. So, whether it’s in our homes, whether it’s in our faith-based community, whether it’s in our school, we’re really prone to “It’s all about me and it’s my needs and what I want.” And that’s what toddlers are, right?
And we’re guiding and shepherding these young kids to see their footprint in a larger world. And that whole idea of your digital footprint is just an extension now of your actual footprint you’re leaving in the world. And we don’t want to litter in the world, right? We pick up our trash, hopefully. And we don’t want to litter on the internet.
And I don’t think we understand how powerful our words are. “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” this is a lie.We know it’s a lie. And words are powerful. And so I think we need to spend more time understanding how the words we say at home actually come out of our children’s mouths in the classroom and on the online spaces. Even joking about–
Michael Arnold: I was just going to say how powerful, that concept – the fact that we belong as one among many, we’re part of a community and what we do affects other people. What a contrast to the typical idea we see out there on social media a lot, especially about the influencers and the people who are out there to just get what they can. Right? Like social media is their cash cow. What a contrast. And I think what an opportunity to continue drilling those biblical principles into our students, just through that aspect of digital citizenship.
Lauralyn Vasquez: Yeah. It really is, and something that I’ve been wrestling with the last couple of years with the social media world is the branding that happens. This personal brand idea. And I believe I understand marketing. And I know that when I put my face I get way more likes than if I put something else – if I put a picture of my curriculum, right? People just, so I’ve wrestled through this, because I want my digital footprint, my tattoo, whatever it is, not to be about me, but to be about how we’re serving others and caring for others. But we as a culture are drawn to the “I want to be like that person,” that comparison idea. I used to teach a lot about um, you know, there’s the deadly Cs, comparison. And I can’t think of the other ones, but the comparison is one of them. We’re always trying to compare with others, and are they better? Are they not? But it’s the thief of joy. That’s a quote that’s been around for a long time.
And so social media brings that comparison and, and we have seen, and this goes right with digital citizenship. We’ve seen with these social media companies, Facebook, how they are intentionally going after our middle schoolers, our middle school girls. And it’s a crime. I personally believe it’s a crime, what they have done, how they’ve sucked them in. And you know, the cat’s out of the bag. It is what it is. And so now it’s up to us as educators and as parents to protect our girls. So that doesn’t mean we have to be afraid. I don’t – the people that just want to be afraid and say, no, no, no, I’m not going to have it with my children – then you’re not educating your children how to handle the temptation. And you’re not coming alongside your child and saying, you are fearfully and wonderfully made. You are beautiful. You’re created in the image of God. And just because some rule out there says a size two is the most important doesn’t mean that God believes that a size two is the perfect-sized woman. Right? So we are having to constantly reiterate the values that we believe with our kids in guarding their hearts. I think social media starts way too young. But if you’re going to open your kid up to that, then what are you modeling with it as a parent? I think modeling’s the most important.
Helping students with issues concerning social media
Michael Arnold: Yeah, we totally overlook the value of modeling as parents, as educators. So that’s a great point. And then there’s also, you know, this idea: the more connected we make our students with the outside world, they’re also more connected with each other. And so we get into social concerns like bullying and teasing, and how do we help our students with that? How have you seen that play out in your experience, maybe as a middle school Bible teacher or in other areas?
Lauralyn Vasquez: Yeah. So some people will just say, cut it out altogether. Just, nope, give me that phone. You can’t have it. And there are times it is a great discipline tool. It really is. It’s a great time out. But I don’t necessarily take that approach of just stop it altogether. Because again, you want to be able to, while your children are in your home, while the students are in your classroom, guide them, teach them, educate them. Right? You’ve got to fall before you learn to walk. But you’ve set up parameters. You’ve got a safety net, so when they fall, you’re there to catch them. Right? You’re not letting them run out too far.
As a parent, hopefully you’ve got all of the parental safeties on the phone. And you know, who your kids are talking to, and what I call some of the basic stuff. But it’s not necessarily basic to a new parent who is just overwhelmed with it. It’s one of the things that BTE does: we want to help set up parents for success. And this is how you have parental locks, this is what you do.
But again, I don’t want us to just go to the fear in it, I want us to go to the wisdom. So this is wisdom on how you set things up. We don’t have to be afraid, but this is like, the stove is hot. You don’t stop using the stove because it could potentially burn you. Right? But you tell your kids, ouch, that’s hot. Now they might touch it and experience it. And oh, now they’ve got a blister on their hand. Right? Go get some ice. It’s the same way with social media and that we’re coming alongside them.
And as we’re teaching about, you know, your digital footprint, and your personal information and your password protection and all those things, we’re also showing them, now here’s where the good can be. Here’s where social media actually, like you know, as Christians, we want the gospel shared to the whole world.
Christians being salt and light in online spaces
Lauralyn Vasquez: Can you imagine, just visualize this with me, if you were to have Christians being that light, the salt and light to the world on social media, being the peacemakers on social media, you know, blessed are the meek, you know, I could go through all of that. Matthew five, six and seven. I mean, if we were to live into that the world would change!
Michael Arnold: And that’s more than just posting your favorite Bible verse, or saying “Here’s a verse that I think all my friends need to read. You know who you are.” You know, it’s a lot messier than that, right? Like it’s a lot more relational.
Lauralyn Vasquez: That’s that relational element, that community. God wants us to be in community. And part of being a citizen is being a contributor to that community. And so what this next generation is is already showing us, their community is going to be their online spaces. You know? I hope that people go back to church and go back to youth group and start getting involved again in those areas. But we also know that that online community is here. And whatever you think about Meta and that whole concept all around it, it’s coming. And so how can we teach our children and our students in our classroom to be the salt and light in the online spaces? That’s really important.
Balance as part of digital citizenship
Michael Arnold: Yeah. And along with that, resiliency and boundaries and recognizing when, you know, we need to log off, you know, you need to take a break for our own mental health, spiritual health, and so forth.
Lauralyn Vasquez: It’s having a balanced time, right? We used to talk about being balanced in all our areas of life. Well I mean, there’s actually studies now that are showing that not all screen time is identical in your brain. So when you’re engaging is different than when you’re watching. So if you’re just scrolling, that’s just dead brain stuff. Right? But when you’re asking questions, when you’re engaging in a conversation, when you’re talking, when you’re playing a game, that’s actually healthy.
So if you’re online learning how to research and do MLA format and all the things that you got to do with your Google Docs, and then maybe you’re learning how to code and learning how to do spreadsheets and data analysis. Your brain is working in a way very different than if you’re watching a movie, watching YouTube, you know, watching, watching, watching, and scrolling. So it’s teaching that balance.
That’s part of digital citizenship, right? Learning how to be healthy, how to have that balance in it. It’s not just limiting time. It’s not just “oh, two hours up!” because now with COVID kids were on screen all day long. You know, they’re having to wear the glasses, you know, the younger ages particularly. There is Zoom fatigue and all the things that were discovered at that time, but our kids don’t have the same fatigue that adults had. I think they had some resiliency in that.
And a lot of it is, the adult fatigue, we’re interacting right now. We’re talking, we’re engaging. That’s more tiresome than if I’m just watching a movie. So I think there’s part of that in there: we’re learning what is healthy screen time and having that balance.
Plagiarism and fake news
Michael Arnold: What other areas of digital citizenship would you like to address before we move on?
Lauralyn Vasquez: I think part of digital citizenship too, the other thing that I always want people to understand, is the concept of plagiarism and fake news. So those are two huge areas of concern. It’s really easy for us to copy and paste. And just like in a paper or when you’re writing a book, you don’t plagiarize, you give credit if credit’s due. There’s a part of that digital citizenship that we as adults teaching our students need to understand. When we’re sharing whatever it is that we’re sharing, you know how to understand if it’s a reliable source, who the source is from, and then give credit to the source. Don’t just share it, give credit to that person. If you can’t find out who wrote it, it’s probably not reliable.
And I say that to my students all the time. Okay, this is a great article – we’re having a Socratic discussion seminar next week, and so the kids are researching articles for their position that they’re taking. And if you can’t find the author, if the author is not going to say it themselves, and you don’t know who wrote that, it could just be somebody with propaganda, you know. And that’s really important and they’re getting really tricky. So they will say that it’s NBC News, but it’s not NBC News. NBC News is buried in the link. And so we were like, oh, this is, well, no, it’s not, it’s another page from another page from another page.
And I couldn’t tell you how many adults I’ve watched, especially on Facebook, share things that were not reliable sources. Whether I agreed with them or not, you know? So that part of digital citizenship is really understanding the source of where things come from.
So if we can’t identify what is true, what is fake, think about this when it comes to scriptures, when it comes to the canon, when it comes to all the things that we believe with our faith, we have learned to understand, wait wait wait wait wait – when this version interprets it this way, and I have another version, what is it in the original language? Right? And if we don’t know how to go find that, we do know how to go talk to our pastor, right? What does this mean in the original language? Like I’m really confused! Or somebody quoted the scriptures, but it seems out of place, you know? So we’ve learned how to do that in one area of our life. We now need to put that into our digital citizenship, with sharing documents and articles and videos.
Michael Arnold: Yeah. Good sourcing, expert input and so forth. I mean, as you’re talking about this, I’m like how many times have we heard that some famous person has died, only for them to pop up on their social media account saying no, I’m still alive, not sure where you’re getting this information, but I’m still alive. I mean, how embarrassing, how kind of humorous, but also sad that we’re so quick to spread information like that without solid sourcing.
Lauralyn Vasquez: Yeah, it’s really true. So that is kind of a huge one for me that I’m continually talking on.
And I mean, plagiarism is real, it’s rampant in our schools with our students. And I think it’s because they just don’t understand. They don’t want their stuff stolen, they want to be given credit, you know, whether it’s artwork, I mean, even digital art. So we’ve seen people create these things and then we’re cutting and pasting and not giving credit where credit is due. And this is just honoring the other person, you know? So I’m always telling people, be careful what you share.
Be slow to share, slow to speak, you know, quick to listen. I say slow to share, you know, as much as you love that. And really that’s why people started sharing, because, oh, I love this, I want to share this with someone else, you know, but we need to be mindful in, is it propaganda, is – so I go back to that verse, “Whatever is true, whatever is lovely, whatever is honorable,” right? The Philippian standard. “Think on these things.” Think.
Michael Arnold: Yup. Absolutely. Well, I’m, I’m hearing all of the biblical principles that support digital citizenship, which we shouldn’t be surprised about, but I’m also hearing all of these hints of other, you know, content areas that are supported or can support good digital citizenship, like language arts, when we talk about plagiarism and stealing work and good practices. And we could probably go down the line and find that everyone could be responsible for digital citizenship in their content areas and promote it.
Lauralyn Vasquez: Yeah. I mean, look at this, the sciences. So we’ve got these, you know big businesses that have shown that, No, it was fake, I lied about my technology. So when we’re talking about digital citizenship, it bleeds into the world and like, no, we need to be honorable. We need to be, who did this research? Where did this research come from? And people trying to, you know, steal secrets. That’s been happening since the beginning of time. But you know, it does bleed into every single curriculum that there is out there, every single academic field of study.
It’s very important, because we can’t escape the digital world. Machine learning is here to stay and is growing. You’ve got your AI technologies. I mean, we talked about Meta, it’s just all continuing to grow. And so as I’m meeting with language arts teachers, and they’re talking about the plagiarism that’s happening and I’m like, yeah, I’m not surprised, you know, that it’s happening. Because it’s just gotten easier. It’s work to honor that person, right? And to give the credit where credit is due.
About Beyond Technology Education
Michael Arnold: So I sit here as someone who uses technology day in and day out – I’m the person in my family that people come to if they have technology questions, not that I always have the answer, but they think that I will – so that’s who I am. And yet I’m thinking about the disconnect between my comfort level to use my own technology and how equipped I feel to help my kids or my students use technology. We’ve mentioned BTE a couple of times, and I just want to ask you, tell us a little bit more about Beyond Technology Education – how we can find out more about them, but also other resources that you might recommend to help educators just wrap their mind around this concept of citizenship.
Lauralyn Vasquez: Yeah. So Beyond Technology Education, we’re BTE for short, and our tagline is “Technology is always changing, and we’re here to help.” Just like what you said, you’ve got a pretty solid grasp on technology, but with our children, it’s different; technology is always changing. So we’re constantly researching, digging in – what apps are best? What programs are best? How do we put this into a curriculum that makes sense? That’s what we do. That’s what we love to do. And I think that’s important, for every school to be able to have the champions come alongside them and say, oh, we’ve got ya on this one, you know, we’re here to help. Really that’s our desire, is we’re here to help.
We come into a school and we evaluate. We talk with the teachers, we do assessments on everything from, you know, your internet to your professional development, and we really personalize it, to the personality of your school. So whether you’ve been doing technology for a long time or are brand new with one-to-one because of COVID, you know, we really want to come in and help with all these areas.
We have a 36-week curriculum that we take K through eighth grade through, we have a coding curriculum. We have a CEO challenge; it’s a business curriculum, kind of like Shark Tank for the students. And you know, and all of that is wrapped around you know, the world will call it SEL, social-emotional learning, I call it biblical characters or biblical traits that we’re to live by. And then I also encourage parents, you can sign up for commonsense.org and you can actually sign up and get text messages, and they just send weekly text messages to you. It’s a really great start when it comes to digital citizenship; they’re really trying to equip parents. And so it’s not going to be, you know, a weekly curriculum with your kids. It is more for parents and educators to kind of dig into a subject a little bit more.
Other resources for parents and educators
Michael Arnold: Any other resources or input or advice that you’d give for parents and educators?
Lauralyn Vasquez: So there’s a lot of magazines out there, online web sources. Edutopia is another well-known big one, another great resource. They’re always talking about different authors, so I’m constantly reading authors. They have one that they just put out this week. She’s author of Reinventing Writing, and she’s got, you know, her nine keys of digital citizenship that she talks about, which is all good stuff.
So I would encourage parents to get on that.
And one area that we didn’t talk about is collaboration. Collaboration is another element of the importance of working together in a team, you know, Adam needed Eve, they were a team together. Often we have this idea of “I can do it all by myself,” you know, I’m the rocket star – no, we’re meant to be in community. And that’s where collaboration [comes in], whether it’s in your home, whether it’s the set of siblings being competitive against one another. How can we build this together? How can we build these collaborative communities in the classroom? All of our projects it with BTE have collaborative elements to it for that reason. And the more you’re collaborative in online spaces, the less competitive you’re going to be. And that just goes right into digital citizenship.
BTE and Curriculum Trak’s partnership
Michael Arnold: Well, and I think that’s why we’re so excited to have a partnership through Curriculum Trak with BTE because, you know, well even the lone ranger had a sidekick, right? So how can we partner together? How can we promote all the best practices and the next practices, even when it comes to technology and digital citizenship and protecting our kids?
You know, I think most schools have probably already gone to the people in the know when it comes to protecting their physical structures, right? When it comes to lockdown drills and making sure that we know who’s in and out of the building – because there have been some very clear reminders of how precious our kids are and how easy it is for life to change in a moment. And so schools have partnered with the experts when it comes to protecting their kids and taking safety measures there.
And I would see partnering with BTE as the same kind of thing. How can we make sure that we’re not only equipping our kids, but protecting our kids for the world that we’re preparing them for?
Lauralyn Vasquez: Absolutely.
Michael Arnold: Well, it’s been insightful to talk to you. You mentioned at the top that you’re also an author, so what kind of writing do you enjoy the most, and what’s your most recent book?
Lauralyn Vasquez: Well, I love to write. I’ve been practicing with poetry lately. I’ve been just, wherever I go, writing, you know, so that’s definitely where my heart has been.
But speaking of collaborating, I have found a niche in collaborating with other writers on books, and so three different Bible studies that I’ve been able to collaborate on. And the most recent one just came out. It just launched a couple of weeks ago, it’s She Is Called, and it’s of the women of the Bible. And it’s actually the second in a series. So it’s some of the more obscure women, Jehosheba, and you know, just different women that you may not go, hmm, what was their role? Why were they put in the Bible? So that has been really a blessing and fun to do, with incredible like-minded scholarly women who, you know, enjoy that study. I don’t think we have enough Bible studies out there, I don’t. And, you know, we learned about the men of the Bible from day one, right? and not the women of the Bible. And so I think this is good. I put my husband through it, you know, as I was writing my section of it, I’m like, okay, does this relate to men? You know, not that I have to justify that, because we’ve been reading men’s stuff forever. But I think it’s really good for the dual genders. It’d be great small group study or Bible study on your own.
Michael Arnold: Great. We’ll link out to that as well, or at least provide access to you in some way, shape or form so that if people have questions or would like to learn more about anything that we’ve talked about today they can contact you.
Well Lauralyn, thank you so much for joining us today. I know that there’s a lot more that could be said, many more avenues that we could explore, but I appreciate your expertise and your passion to connect this with our Christian faith and to equip faith-based schools to serve our students well. So thank you for joining us today.
Lauralyn Vasquez: Thank you for having me. This has been a lot of fun.
Michael Arnold: Pleasure is ours.