Digital citizenship is a topic that educators have to continue to be mindful of within their classrooms. Because so many tasks done today involve the use of technology, it is our responsibility to cover the elements of digital citizenship so that students are prepared and knowledgeable about the expectations. Digital citizenship skills have to be part of what we teach students, especially because we ask our students to do research, to collaborate using online tools and perhaps even be involved in social media. Each of these activities lead students to develop their online presence, and create their digital footprints. We have to address the rules of digital citizenship, continue to remind and model good practices and responsibilities. We want students to know how to use technology appropriately, be responsible and safe in the online learning environment.
As educators, we not only have the responsibility to model good digital citizenship ourselves, but we have to help students understand what it means. We must provide opportunities for students to learn responsibly through technology and be sure that what we are asking them to use is appropriate. We need to take the time to thoroughly research any tool we are using for its appropriateness for students and make sure it is something that will serve a purpose and provide beneficial learning opportunities for students.
With all of the resources available on the internet, it is easy for issues to arise. Students can find inappropriate content as the result of a search or may have questions about how to properly cite or how to determine the validity of a resource. By modeling good practices and using tools which help us to learn about digital citizenship we guide our students, and can make sure that we are doing our best to promote digital citizenship within and outside of our classrooms.
In courses I teach, students use a diverse group of digital tools and reinforcing proper use was the focus at the start of this year. We discussed digital citizenship and to do so, I relied on the many great resources available for teachers and students, to help understand our responsibilities. The first resources I turned to was Common Sense Education. As a Common Sense Educator, I am familiar with the variety of tools available for digital citizenship including lesson plans, videos, teaching strategies and more. One of my students’ favorite has been the “Digital Compass.” The Digital Compass is a great resource that provides a lot of interactive lessons, tutorials and fun activities for students to engage in to learn about digital citizenship. One of the most beneficial parts of this is that students have a choice in what they are doing through the interactive lessons, and can see how their choices can have positive or negative effects on themselves and on others. It is a tremendous opportunity to learn, that is personalized and helps students to continually build their digital citizenship skills. Common Sense provides many great resources for teachers to provide thorough and engaging lessons on digital citizenship.
There are some other great resources available through CyberWise, The Digital Citizenship Summit, The Digital Citizenship Institute and Digital Citizenship Kids. A young student created this site for students called DigCitKids, which also provides many learning opportunities for students to explore and learn on their own. Marialice Curran, leader of the ISTE DIgital Citizenship Network shared some of these resources and has many other available through the ISTE PLN.
Teachers can also use some resources like Common Sense Education or EdShelf, to see teacher reviews of digital tools and check for appropriateness for students.
It is also beneficial to be part of learning communities whether it be through Edmodo or Amazon or Google communities with a focus on digital citizenship. It is important to make sure you have time for students to ask questions and to reinforce the nine elements of digital citizenship. One of these great books, which is also a recent read of mine is by Mike Ribble, “Digital Citizenship in Schools”, an ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) publication. ISTE offers many resources,
There are always risks involved when learning with technology. We can do our best to protect students, to make sure they have all of the knowledge that they need but things will come up, and we should take these as learning opportunities, as teachable moments, to guide our next steps and to reinforce what it means to be a digital citizen today.