My Journey with COVA and CSLE

I’m not sure if I can pinpoint an exact time when I first realized that this program had a different approach than what I was used to. I think I accepted it as a different type of program at first not because of the COVA approach, but because I was used to science and health courses that are traditionally very black-and-white with the delivery of the information, and the assignments that were somewhat narrow in focus. I was wrong in that assumption. The COVA approach is just as applicable to those types of courses, maybe even more so. I just wasn’t accustomed to it yet. Dr. Thibodeaux was my first instructor, and she was amazing. I kept thinking to myself though, “what is she looking for in this assignment?”. I wanted stricter parameters and guidelines. The rubrics were very broad, and I felt like I didn’t know what I was supposed to do. Here’s a link to my first e-Portfolio post in this program. I also thought we would be taught how to use the technology, but I was wrong there again. Our instructors were there to guide us, but we had the choice to decide what we wanted to learn about. It forced me to learn how to learn.

This style of learning was challenging at first because I was so used to just being given an assignment with exact directions on how to complete it. Looking back, this approach doesn’t make sense because it doesn’t allow ownership of the final product. How can someone truly be motivated to learn about a topic if they don’t have an interest in it? And if you’re following a recipe for an assignment without any creative input, the end result will be so-so. Everyone knows that the best chefs are the ones who deviate from a recipe and put their own flair into it, try new combinations, and cook things they actually would want to eat! It’s the same with learning!

Initially, I felt very overwhelmed in this program. As I completed more and more projects that were authentic to my interests, it started making sense. I learned to take the readings and videos from class and think about how to apply them to my dental hygiene courses. I also became better at researching what I needed to, and better at reflecting on my work. That has also been difficult for me: reflecting. It’s so crucial to do that though because if you don’t reflect on your work, how can you learn from mistakes and make it better the next time?

My learning philosophy was completed early in the program, and although it was pretty good, my learning philosophy has changed based on experiencing the COVA approach. At the time when I created my learning philosophy, I hadn’t connected the dots yet. I didn’t know how important it was to give students choice, ownership, voice, and authentic assignments. I didn’t yet understand that an instructor should be more of a facilitator of learning, not the “sage on the stage”. I didn’t know how to create significant learning environments. Now I understand these things, and how to create significant learning environments where students can learn with the COVA approach, in a significant learning environment and be proud of what they can accomplish.

One of the most amazing parts of this program was completing an e-Portfolio. At first, I was nervous about putting all my work out there for anyone to see. Now, I am proud of what I have achieved: it’s unique to my circumstances, it’s my own creation, and it’s a nice compilation of my work. It’s something I can continue to use to showcase my work and help and inspire others. No one else has an e-Portfolio like mine, and that is the result of the COVA approach. I think it would be a great addition to our dental hygiene program, to let students reflect on what they are learning and to build an online journey that they can show future employers!

In my classes, I have already started using the COVA approach with my students. I am giving them more choices in how to complete assignments and what they want to research. In my Oral Pathology class, the students have a project to complete, and I have changed the parameters of the assignment. Now, they get to pick a lesion or disease of their choice, and present it in either a paper, verbal presentation, or use digital media of their choice. Right now, most of them are choosing a paper because that is what they are used to. I’m planning on encouraging them more to try digital media so they can get more creative. In all my classes, we are spending more time in group discussion and reflection. I am using Fink’s 3-column table to design classes that create significant learning environments. I also have a blended learning version of my Dental Radiology course that I plan on implementing as soon as it’s approved by the Academic Dean.

I think preparing students for COVA and CSLE can be done in stages. If their first courses incorporate 50% traditional and 50 % COVA, maybe it won’t be as overwhelming. Then, we can let them see for themselves how much more they enjoy having choice, ownership, voice, and authentic assignments. I would love to have them create their own e-Portfolios throughout the program as well. I know I need to focus on one thing at a time, so for now, I want to start with blended learning as my innovation project. My next innovation project will be e-Portfolios for the students.

This has been such an exciting journey for me. I am so proud of all the work I have done; it has been work that I can implement in my own organization, and I am not afraid to work toward change. I can honestly say that the work I have done in this program has been more meaningful than the work I did at any other school. If I’ve had such a positive experience, why wouldn’t I want the same for my students?


Collaborative Agency. (2016, June 9). Keynote Speaker WILL RICHARDSON – Surprising Truth About Learning in Schools. Retrieved from

Harapnuik, D. (2015, May 8). Creating Significant Learning Environments (CSLE). Retrieved from


Digital Citizenship for Dental Hygiene Students

Digital Citizenship is ethical and legal behavior in digital environments…..

Digital citizenship

According to Ribble (2015), there are three categories of digital citizenship that are further broken down into nine elements. Ribble’s categories are: 1. Respect Yourself/ Respect Others, 2. Educate Yourself/ Connect with Others, and 3. Protect Yourself/ Protect Others. The elements that fall into the categories are: 1. Etiquette, Access, and Law; 2. Communication, Literacy, and Commerce; and 3. Rights and Responsibility, Safety (security), and Health and Welfare. Ideally, students would be exposed to an element from each category in rotations, eventually learning all nine elements in order to accomplish an understanding of what it means to be a good digital citizen.

Ribble (2015) explained the nine elements of digital citizenship accordingly:

  • Respect Yourself/ Respect Others:

o   Digital etiquette: when communicating with others, follow proper etiquette

o   Digital access: a goal of citizenship is full access for everyone

o   Digital law: digital citizens need to respect laws and behave ethically

  • Educate Yourself/ Connect with Others:

o   Digital communication: make good decisions about how and what you communicate online

o   Digital literacy: good citizens keep up with changes in technology

o   Digital commerce: be aware of what you are purchasing and the legality of those purchases

  • Protect Yourself/ Protect Others:

o   Digital rights and responsibilities: every digital citizen has rights that need to be respected, but those rights are also balanced with responsibilities

o   Digital security: digital citizens must be proactive in protecting their information

o   Digital health and wellness: digital citizens should take measures to prevent musculoskeletal disorders and psychological issues that can arise from the use of technology

Ribble’s nine elements of digital citizenship provide a good framework for teaching digital citizenship to students. They are all important, and good digital citizenship encompasses all of them. However, this paper will focus on the element that applies most to students in our dental hygiene program, as it will affect their future success as clinicians.

A dental hygienist is a healthcare professional who is responsible for dental disease prevention, identification of soft and hard tissue oral abnormalities, and the treatment of periodontal diseases. According to Beemsterboer (2017), dental hygienists have a responsibility to uphold several professional traits that society expects from us in order to gain their trust. Beemsterboer’s professional traits for dentals hygienists is as follows:

  • Honesty and integrity: veracity (truth) in communication with patients, and upholding personal and professional integrity
  • Caring and compassion: demonstrating empathy when caring for patients
  • Reliability and responsibility: maintaining sound judgement in all interactions and meeting obligations
  • Maturity and self-analysis: keeping the needs of others as a priority; regularly assessing skills and making efforts to improve them
  • Loyalty: keeping promises, protecting and promoting the interests of the profession, your patients, and your practice
  • Interpersonal communication: developing good relationships with patients and colleagues by listening and exchanging information properly
  • Respect for others: caring for all individuals with the same high level of commitment
  • Respect for self: taking care of your own physical and mental health
Hands on a globe — Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

All of these professional traits need to be exercised if a dental hygienist is to be considered an upstanding member of the profession. Of Ribble’s nine elements, the one that will help hygienists maintain professionalism the most in an online environment is digital communication. Hygienists need to make good decisions about what to post online, such as on social media forums and how they are communicating online. This will affect how patients, colleagues, employers, and society in general will view a hygienist and the dental hygiene profession in general. Most social media platforms include options to post one’s occupation, so when a hygienist exercises bad decisions in regards to digital communication, it reflects on not only that hygienist, but the entire profession.

In term five of our dental hygiene program, students take a course in ethics and law. Although the text book addresses social media issues, it does not address it with the detail needed for a thorough understanding of what it means to communicate responsibly online. As of 2017, 24% of internet users are on 2 social media sites, and there are 2.8 billion active social media users worldwide (Hutchinson, 2017). Working with college students who are likely to be using social media, there is a huge potential audience that could be reading what they are communicating online. As educators, it is our responsibility to inform them about their responsibilities to communicate wisely online.

One of the lessons that could be incorporated into their ethics and law class would be an activity to ensure that the students’ social media profiles appear professional and that their posts are communicating messages that are in line with Beemsterboer’s traits of dental hygiene professionalism. Pictures are a form of non-verbal communication, and they should be tasteful. Students could google themselves (as we did in EDLD 5316), and make sure that everything that comes up in connection with their name is professional. Hygienists should maintain a professional relationship with patients by not friending patients on their personal social media platforms, or creating professional pages where patients would be welcome to join. It should also be emphasized that while their own posts should communicate professionalism, posts from others should be censored as needed, and groups that one is affiliated with should be weighed carefully. Whatever is on a person’s page, whether posted by that individual or someone else, can be interpreted as communicating that the person is in agreement with what is on their page.

Including an activity where students evaluate and correct the way they are communicating on their social media platforms should help prepare them once they enter the workplace and identify themselves as professional hygienists. Of course, social media platforms are not the only areas where careful online communication is important. Some other online communication areas include e-mails, communicating via video conferencing, chat rooms, instant messaging, comments posted in discussion forums, or a personal website or blog (Savelau, 2009).

A second activity that could be incorporated into their ethics and law class would be for students to identify all the areas where they personally communicate with others online. Their assignment would be to analyze past posts or pictures that they created and decide whether those posts or pictures should remain or not.

As we learned in EDLD 5316, it is not only important to remove negative communication, but also to promote positive communication actively. This could take the form of creating websites for dental hygienists or websites for patients. Students could learn how to create a blog for their patients also.

Teaching students to partake in an active online presence using good communication skills and choices would be a great way for them to practice good digital communication. Hopefully, it would encourage them to contribute to the hygiene community in meaningful ways that would help them grow professionally. There are several websites for dental hygienists with message boards and areas where they can post questions or discuss cases they have encountered. Encouraging the students to join these online organizations, such as Hygienetown, would hopefully be carried into their professional lives as they begin to work in clinical practice.

Ribble’s nine elements of digital citizenship are detailed guidelines for us to follow and teach in order to practice good citizenship online. This paper highlighted the importance of good digital communication for dental hygiene students as they enter the professional world. As it relates to dental hygiene, all nine are essential to understand and practice. Hopefully by the time the students enter college, they will already have a good understanding of what it means to be a good digital citizen. It is up to us as educators though to ensure that students are learning throughout their educational years about digital citizenship and how to behave in a community that is truly world-wide, and can have devastating consequences if not practiced wisely.




Beemsterboer, Phyllis L. (2017). Ethics and Law in Dental Hygiene, 3rd Ed. St. Louis: Saunders.

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

Savelau, Dmitry. (2009). What are the Main Online Communication Tools? Retrieved from





Journal Reflection on Digital Citizenship EDLD 5316

What did you learn about digital citizenship? Be specific.

I learned about Ribble’s nine elements of digital citizenship, which encompassed things I knew internally, but had never really identified specifically. The most important take-away for me was learning about copyright laws and how to make sure that course design is done with those laws in mind. I didn’t know about fair use, so that was really enlightening!


What was your biggest accomplishment in the course?

My biggest accomplishment in this course was probably making the PowToon on how to use a cell phone responsibly.


What challenges did you face in completing this course?

The biggest challenge for me was completing all the reading assignments, videos, and the weekly assignments plus journals and discussion posts. It was just extremely time-consuming!


What was your best work for the course and explain why it was your best. What did you learn by creating it? Be specific.

My best work for the course was probably the paper I wrote in week five because it allowed me to reflect on how I can use digital citizenship in a very tangible way in my own classroom.


What was the one most useful or meaningful thing you learned in this course?

One of the most useful and meaningful things I learned in this course was about fair use and copyright laws. I’m always trying to be careful when using materials for my classes, and I am thankful for the great resources we were provided with.


What have you learned in this course that will help you continue to grow as an educational leader?

Because of the information I learned about copyright laws, I feel I am better prepared to help other instructors ensure they are using educational materials in their classrooms legally and ethically.


What was your favorite aspect of this course? Why?

My favorite aspect of this course was probably making the Powtoon on using cell phones responsibly. I had a lot of fun doing it and it opened my eyes to what I should be discussing more with my 11- year old daughter.


What suggestions would you give other students on ways to get the most out this course?

I would suggest to students that they read through the weekly assignments ahead of time. There are a lot of little assignments within the big assignments. The structure for this course is very different from the previous courses in this program.

If I had more time, I would have researched more information for the case studies. I think I would have answered the questions better.


What will you say, if you have a chance to speak to your friends, about this course?

I will tell them how incredibly important digital citizenship is, and that they should take a course like this one.



This week, our topic is cyberbullying and how to address the issue with children and adolescents. Now that nearly 80% of adolescents regularly use cell phones, cyberbullying is becoming more common. It’s important to acknowledge that most teens will use technology in a responsible manner, but for those who are being bullied, it can have devastating consequences.

One of the problems with cyberbullying is the low incidence of reporting.

Fewer than 25% of victims tell a parent and even fewer (6%) told a teacher. Educational programs geared toward cyberbullying should be done regularly, starting in early elementary school. It is important to emphasize that most kids will use technology in an ethical manner, but if cyberbullying occurs, it should be reported to an adult so they can get help with stopping the bullying.

It is disheartening to know that 52% of young people report being cyberbullied and 1 in 6 have bullied others. Since most of cyberbullying happens outside of school, it can be difficult for teachers to get involved. However, school leaders should take on the ethical responsibility of protecting our youth by creating prevention programs and implementing protocols to help our youth when they report that they have been cyberbullied.