Today’s classrooms are providing opportunities for students to learn with technology tools and nonstop information. Providing the ability to communicate and interact very quickly online. The growth of 1:1 initiatives in schools is driving the conversation and need to highlight the responsible use of technology in education. We have heard the phrase many times “your digital footprint”. However, footprints are easily washed away, I think it is more accurate to say, “Your digital tattoo”. I feel this is a more accurate lens to think about a student’s digital presence, since it should be thought out and NOT easily washed away.
Teachers have long understood the importance of teaching and modeling good citizenship in their classroom, positive interactions between students, and taking the time to focus on social etiquette and how to treat their peers with respect. Digital citizenship requires that same daily instruction and opportunities to practice using their digital citizenship skills. In today’s classrooms, it is just as important that students understand what kinds of behaviors are acceptable “online”. Teachers can use instructional time to incorporate digital citizenship skills to help students become smart, responsible, and respectful online users.
Click here to view the Milford S.M.A.R.T guidelines and expectation.
Students understanding of digital tools will become more important in the following years, as educational resources, social media, and online communities grow exponentially. Students today are already using online tools to facilitate the learning process so exposing students at an early age to developing good citizenship habits is increasingly important.
I believe the best way to teach digital citizenship is to build it into the daily lessons. If students are exposed and practice it every day, it becomes second nature, regardless of age. With the increase of digital lessons, teachers can incorporate the digital citizen skills into what they are already likely working on with technology every day.
I have seen many student presentations and this could be a time teachers can highlight copyright and intellectual rights into the lesson launch or in lesson wrap up. You can also highlight issues like plagiarism and citing research with presentations. Teachers can use plagiarism as a discussion question by asking students how they would feel if someone else were to profit from their hard work, especially if it was done without their consent. Student privacy and safety online around cyberbullying and digital chatting and posting is also a concern. These are very critical conversations and real issues at all ages. Just like copyright and plagiarism are issues – so is negative chatter, inappropriate posting, and violent recommendations. Most schools have social media sites blocked, but safety is still a conversation to have with students even with these safeguards. Social networking sites allow students to be more public about their personal lives. Since details of students’ lives can be posted so easily, students are prone to bypass social filters they might normally use when talking about their private lives to peers in school. And remember the digital tattoo, the things they post remain available indefinitely. Additionally, students who attempt to multi-task, checking social media sites while studying, show reduced academic performance. Students’ ability to concentrate on the task at hand is significantly reduced by the distractions that are brought about by social media.
There are many positive uses of social media and many critical conversations about the use of social media. These critical conversations about digital citizenship is essential in K-12 education today with all the access our students have. Below are ways teachers can introduce good online digital citizenship conversations with students.
- Remind students to be mindful about what information and opinions they make public.
- Create a student digital use guide for online use that teaches students how to properly and safely use the internet. Districts may have a district responsible use policy, but a classroom reminder always helps.
- Incorporate lessons about the difference between sharing and stealing online content. Content and photos are easily found and it may feel like anything on the internet is up for grabs, but copyright and intellectual property laws protect almost all online content.
- Encourage students to step away from phone and computer screens when hanging out with friends; offline peer relations are just as important as online ones!
One of the best ways to educate yourself is to log into forums and discussion boards where teachers, administrators, professors, and others in the industry chat about their experiences and share their ideas about digital citizenship. Ultimately, school and district collaboration is the best way to find the best resources for your lessons. The more people in education that you chat with, the more ideas you will find to enhance your students’ understanding of digital citizenship. Below are some resources I have found to assist me in my growth as a digital leader.
Common Sense Media Student Library: Click to visit site
This site has videos to embed into lesson plans, or use them to jump start a conversation with your students or your children. This site also has Digital Citizenship Classroom Posters. Click here to download these from Common Sense Media. These posters could be the perfect addition to any classroom. Additionally, this site also has a Digital Citizenship Scope and Sequence tool to find the lessons that are just right for your classroom. Click here to view. These cross-curricular units incorporate digital literacy and citizenship topics in an age-appropriate way.
Common sense cyberbullying Tool Kits For all levels of teachers. Click to see how Cyberbullying hurts students, disrupts classrooms, and impacts your school’s culture. This site also helps to address the issue of what are the right things to do and say
PBS Webonauts Academy. Click to view this site that gives younger students an opportunity to have some fun while exploring what it means to be a citizen in a web-infused‚ information-rich world.
Netsmartz Teens. Click here to view. The site is designed for teens and teachers of middle and high school students so they can bring these engaging lessons right into the classroom.
The more education and knowledge in introducing technology into schools, the more important digital citizenship becomes. As teachers, you can begin to instruct students on how to be careful and respectful so that they can enjoy all the amazing possibilities of digital learning. Students are exposed to technology every day and a good digital citizen is more than knowing your way around the web. It’s about learning, connecting, and collaborating in ways you didn’t even know were possible.
As educators, we have seen some sites/apps that have presented some challenges to us as educators/admins (ex. Facebook, Music.ly, Instagram, Snapchat, etc.). We are asking to partner in this journey to develop good digital citizens. We are asking to please monitor your child’s use of these sites and they may be inappropriate for the elementary student. Milford Public Schools worked to create a hub to assist parents and teachers of recommended websites for elementary students. Click here to view the sites and enjoy safe online learning with your children.
When you teach digital citizenship to your students (or children), you help create a positive school culture that supports safe and responsible technology use.