I’ve written and taught about digital citizenship for several years. And, while the term is new in our lexicon, the meaning spans generations. The simple acts of carrying oneself in a civil, appropriate manner are skillsets that have been integrated into every classroom since the very first school. Many would argue that digital citizenship is simply a buzzword and nothing dramatically new. While the underlying meaning is familiar, the medium by which adults and students interact has changed dramatically.
Digital Health and Wellness
Learning digital citizenship is a fairly new category in the student course list. In the past, students were taught to be civil and work toward being an impactful citizen in their society. The principle of citizenship is entwined in many school mission statements as well. In the past, bullying, teasing and fighting were seen as “childlike” behaviors and addressed as necessary. Students were told at an early age to play nicely together, to share and not to call each other names. While these events still happened, they did not have the reach and appeal of today.
With the launch of data networks, almost ubiquitous wifi and the smartphone, adults and students alike now share a platform for consuming and authoring information like our society has never seen. Today’s networked world gives everyone a voice, a digital space, a bullhorn to be heard. While this freedom of expression is nothing new to our society, the medium is taking us into uncharted territory.
My students and I had an “a-ha” moment the other day, in terms of digital citizenship and how we really need to think before we post images to the Internet. Or maybe even before we take the picture.
We are working hard to discourage our students from taking “candids” of each other at school, and more important, from posting those pictures on their favorite social network. I know that may sound strange to many readers, but I teach some very transient, very high-risk kids, and we cannot guarantee the safety of some of our students if other kids are taking their pictures (and then posting them on Facebook to share with friends).
It’s a difficult situation. Everybody with a hand-held device has the ability to take a picture (and many can take video). My students know that I take pictures in class, to document what we’re doing, and that I encourage them to take photographs to help with their learning (grab a picture of the verb chart we’re working on, if it’s easier for you to use that medium — or take a photo of a favorite piece of student art, so you can describe it in French).
What we’re trying to cut down is the great shot of your “bestie” doing cartwheels on the yard that might also show the faces of three kids in the background who aren’t supposed to have their photos taken. A quick share of that picture puts those kids’ safety at risk.
How you act online is important. Not just because everything is stored, backed up, and freely available to anyone with a keyboard. But because your online reputation is actually just your reputation. There’s really no difference between online and offline anymore.
In an effort to keep everyone behaving, Microsoft has just unveiled a new (free) curriculum that’s all about digital citizenship, intellectual property rights, and creative content. It offers cross-curricular classroom activities that align with the AASL and ISTE national academic standards. So far, more than 6,500 people have registered to use the curriculum. No matter how you feel about Microsoft, this free offering is worth checking out. You’ll have to register an account but after that it’s easy to find, select, download, and implement some of the objectives presented.
In 2011, Katy Independent School District, in partnership with Cisco, launched the final phase of a technology transformation. Learn how Katy ISD realized their vision for education transformation with a BYOD mobile learning strategy.
Check out how Twitter, mobile tech, and other social media is engaging and helping 1st-grade students at Abraham Lincoln Elementary in Glen Ellyn learn foundational literacy and typing skills in this Chicago Tribune article. In addition, through blogging and video sharing, these kids are also practicing valuable digital citizenship skills as they learn about our lives online.
[Great examples of using Twitter with kids in Primary]