Digital citizenship is a popular topic amongst teachers and subject leaders these days. In the last few years, numerous districts, especially those who have implemented 1-to-1 or BYOD policies, are being increasingly mandated to incorporate digital citizenship lessons into their curricula. However, what is digital citizenship? As a teacher how are you likely to combine all of the potential lessons around teaching a student how to use technology appropriately and be a responsible, secure, digital citizen on the world wide web, into a single class?
As one of the founders of a societal, e-portfolio instrument for students, I first heard the term digital citizenship three past at an ISTE conference. Teachers were approaching us asking if we’d lesson plans to use our platform to teach digital citizenship. I recall thinking, digital citizenship?!? That is something which you teach children in school? Being three years back, let me stress that these educators were the amazing early adopters bringing technology and social media to the classroom. Early on, they understood how important it’s to prepare students for a future in which technology is anywhere and instruct students how to navigate the world wide web, utilizing it as a positive instrument.
Digital Citizenship needs to be embraced by educators as a way of thinking—and incorporated, whenever possible, into any type of existing curriculum.
These very same teachers were getting reprimanded from their districts for attracting social networks such as Facebook or Twitter into the classroom since they have been “unsafe”, and watched our platform as an perfect alternative to integrate digital citizenship courses around teaching students how to construct a positive societal profile. They liked that it had been an academic based, societal platform where pupils, teachers, and others after a pupils’ updates, could engage publicly and safely.
So needless to say, as I said, ‘Yes, of course our platform can be employed to educate digital citizenship’, I needed to completely understand what this meant. A lot is lumped into the 9 elements of “Digital Citizenship“, as defined by Mike Ribble, author of Raising a Digital Child, one of the godfathers of Digital Citizenship at the forefront of leading education around these concepts in schools.
But as I started to think about it, Digital Citizenship education as a whole just made sense. The digital world is a lot like the regular world and the same manners and rules need to apply. Would you let a child go into a store for the first time to purchase something without educating them on if they need change back or not? Or let them walk home from the bus stop alone without warning them about strangers? In comparison, we can’t leave students alone and think they will just “figure” out the internet.
We have to think of technology and the net as the modern day playground. Both parents and educators must work together to prepare students for the electronic world, just as they work together to prepare pupils for their own future. There is no difference. When it’s in college or their career–engineering, the internet, and social media are resources students will be utilizing daily. But just as teachers and parents can’t possibly cover every single day lesson for every possible real-world situation, teachers can not be expected to teach Digital Citizenship in one class, 10 classes, or a session. Digital Citizenship has to be embraced by educators as a way of thinking–and incorporated, whenever possible, into any type of existing program.
As a business, we now offer a software and program package for school to educate students about social networking and building a positive digital footprint. We provide a personalized learning network tool, enabling students to construct their electronic ecosystem, securely, for college or the world of work. While I believe our curriculum is pretty amazing and it’s adapting to CCSS ELA Anchor Standards and ISTE Standards, I do not believe this is actually the end-all and be-all of Digital Citizenship instruction for pupils. Rather than thinking about Digital Citizenship as a 1 time class, or group of courses, educators should find ways to integrate Digital Citizenship classes and examples to every classroom.
To help, here are the nine themes that define Digital Citizenship, according to Mike Ribble, and examples of how these rules of the digital road can apply to multiple classrooms:
– Digital Access – The principle that not everyone has equal access to technology.
Example Lesson: In a social studies class, look at third world countries and cultures that struggle with access to technology. Investigate some of the initiatives being done to provide access to technology. Analyze if and how it is making a difference to better the society.
– Digital Commerce – Buying and selling goods online safely.
– Digital Communication – Sharing information online properly and safely.
Example Lesson: In an English class, have students differentiate between forms of communication that are acceptable to use when reaching out to a teacher: phone call vs. text message vs. email vs. twitter vs. in person office hours. Advise on how you would address each form of communication (proper way to leave a voicemail & compose a formal email) and illustrate acceptable times of use for each communication method.
– Digital Literacy – Ongoing education on how to use digital technologies.
Example Lesson: In a computer class, look at how technology around “chat rooms” has evolved. Analyze the difference between the early days of something like AOL Instant Messenger to current video conferencing tools such as Google Hangout. Understand the precautions users need to be aware of to be safe in each setting.
– Digital Etiquette – Using technology following a respectable code of conduct.
Example Lesson: In a media class, have an interactive discussion about students’ favorite forms of social media. Ask them to give anonymous examples of how they have seen someone use social media to be hurtful, either in real life or in the news. Discuss the effects this could have had on the individual who was the victim of the social media incident. Have the students counter this by sharing examples of students using social media positively (either in real life or in the news), in a way that if a college admissions officer or employer saw this they would get a great impression of the student.
– Digital Law – The lawful use of technology & content found online.
Example Lesson: In a middle school history class, have students document their findings of a certain historical event using information found from various online outlets such as a blog, a newspaper, and a YouTube video. Have them analyze the way the various media outlets source their findings and describe any unethical, unsourced reporting or undocumented findings.
– Digital Rights & Responsibilities – You have freedom on the Internet but also a responsibility to act responsibly.
Example Lesson: In an elementary art class, give students a drawing of a foot. Using permanent markers, ask them to draw apps or list ways they use the Internet within the foot. Discuss the drawings with the students and explain that everything they do from videos they watch, to things they search for, to comments they make, all leave a mark, that’s permanent. Explain how the paper footprint represents our digital footprint and how it’s important to be sure to leave a positive digital footprint.
– Digital Health & Wellness – Physical & psychological well-being in a digital world.
Example Lesson: In a physical education class, use a digital fitness-tracking tool such as a Fit Bit or GPS distance tracker. Analyze how the offline activity is what’s increasing an individual’s physical well – being but look at how the digital tool can assist in maximizing these benefits. Stress that it’s about finding a balance between online and offline activities for increased well being.
– Digital Security – Protect your safety online.
As you incorporate Digital Citizenship lessons it’s important to remember: just like we can’t prepare every student for every incident they will ever encounter in their real life, we won’t ever be able to teach them how to act in every situation they encounter online. It’s about instilling a “conscious” if you will, and a basic understanding of right and wrong, so they are safe and respectful of creating a positive online identity.