It is interesting that we refer to digital connectivity and citizenship in the same breath. Schools have always played a part in helping young people gain understanding and find their place as citizens. Today more than ever, it appears that schools have the responsibility and task of training students for technology use. As a career and technology teacher, this is both a daunting and challenging task. Our school is wealthy with an abundant supply and variety of technology. Therefore, it is vital to educate students as soon as possible about the different aspects of technology. Students must learn how to keep themselves safe with secure passwords, guarding security information, avoiding traps on the Internet from perpetrators disguised as young people or even companies who may be seeking to steal information. In addition, the education of the students has a trickle-down effect because many of them teach their parents about technology use. I have one student who set up all the bills to be paid online and has been doing that since 8th grade, as well as taking care of media production at their church. Just think about it…do you ever have a young person solve a technology problem for you? Needless to say, students show a lot of savvy when using technology.
Even though students are capable of using their technology to do what they want, they may never know about Digital Citizenship unless given instruction. At the beginning of each school year, I have students complete the Everfi Digital Literacy Course – Ignition. It uses gaming, multiple learning styles and offers a pre and post assessment to measure student learning. The course can be completed on and off campus at the student’s pace. Students enjoy the gaming and interactive components this course offers. It is especially great because the program talks and reads everything to students. I have autistic students who can put headphones on, focus in on the program, and complete the course. For me this is a blessing, because I want all students to be successful and it can be a challenge meeting learning needs of a diverse group of students. I am able to use Everfi through grants from our community businesses that pay for the program. Hooray! I appreciate our surrounding community that provides teacher and student support.
In addition to the online course, I use Common Sense Media lessons throughout the year to supplement and continue teaching students about Digital Citizenship. I love <3 these lessons!!! They are so easy to teach to students — all the videos, activities and social opportunities incorporated into the lessons. It is also wonderful that these lessons are available for many grade levels. I can adjust my instruction in a moment to the level of student I am trying to teach. Of course, these lessons are free and another great resource for students.
This year, Edmodo is our “house” where we go to at the beginning of class and leave with a post for reflections on learning activities each day. It is a great way to post an exit ticket and my students are really beginning to like the consistency and availability, since they can access Edmodo anywhere, anytime.
Lastly, I feel like everyone of all ages should be required, or nearly required, to complete digital training each year. Technology has come upon us so quickly that we have not had time to adapt socially and ethically. Unless we are taught, how will we know the right thing in the ever-changing morals of our 21st century society?