Our world is ever changing. It’s always on the move; sometimes for the good and unfortunately sometimes for the bad.
A major part of that ever changing world is technology. In my lifetime, it has become something no one ever knew it could be. It would seem that everyday it grows and becomes an even larger part of everyday life.
In my field of education, I am 100% confident I will continue to see more changes. I am confident I will witness many more improvements, setbacks, inventions, and hopefully more positive steps to a better education.
This week I have been looking into an important aspect of technology in education : digital citizenship. Going into this week, I had an idea of the definition but I have learned more and been reminded of the importance.
What exactly is digital citizenship? What does it mean to be a digital citizen? And what does it look like?
Having looked into several articles and conducted research, I have formulated my own definition.
Digital Citizenship : having the knowledge to act responsibly and safely while using technology tools effectively to be engaged and communicate online.
Back to my field of education, digital citizenship is one of the most important lessons we can teach in the schools. And this is my biggest takeaway from my research this week. Why, you ask?
Well, if you will remember, as educators we are leading and guiding the next generation. Teachers can play a major role in their students’ lives. We are role models who students look up to. Students notice our attitude, work ethic, and especially the way we interact with others-online and offline.
That being said, our students need us to be teaching them how to be a good digital citizen. Practically, from the moment children are born, they have already made an entrance into the digital world. (We all share pictures and stories about a new baby in our lives.) By the time they get into school, the majority have browsed, gamed, and hopefully learned online. Yes, most likely under the supervision of parents or guardians but still they are already somewhat familiar with what digital technology provides.
I recently read a couple of articles which really hammered the importance of being conscious of our online presence. When Craig Badura talks about digital citizenship, he uses a survival kit as a visual tool. Included in his kit are objects such as a padlock, toothbrush, permanent marker, and toothpaste. Each object represents reminders such as strong and secure passwords, never share private info, everything is permanent, and you can’t take anything back. (Read Craig’s article here.)
George Couros is another great person who shares about digital citizenship. George spoke at Syracuse University and gave a speech titled “140 Characters of Kindness”. He shares about the impact social media, twitter in particular, can have on users. This is a great video to watch when talking about how something you share can be seen be others around the world. His story is one with a happy ending but it is also important to talk about those whose stories have a negative ending.
George also wrote a post about a school’s digital citizenship practice called “Is Your School’s ‘Digital Citizenship’ Practice a Pass or Fail.” It is an insightful read about the differences between teaching and exampling digital leadership and simply cutting out social media thinking it will avoid problems. If we cut out digital tools and social media, how will we effectively teach our students?
In his post, George also shares a “Digital Leadership Continuum.” I found it quite interesting and was able to place my schools at different levels. The more I read it and looked at it, the more it made sense. The best way for us to teach our students how to be safe and conscious online is to allow them to practice while also talking and demonstrating it for them. All schools should be at level 4. I think its the best for our students and school communities.
The bottom line of this post and my week of research is this:
Be conscious of and kind with what you post online. Know many more people than you think will and can see it. It is very hard to take anything back once posted online.
And for my fellow educators out there :
Be an example of digital leadership for your students. Know they are watching and will take notice. Talk about online safety and kindness with students. Teach them to practice good and healthy digital citizenship.
An Educator with Online Footprints Teaching Students to Watch Theirs
* * For another great read about being kind online written by a teacher, check out “Read, Write, Reflect : Living Our Lives Online.”
For great videos to show kids about digital citizenship, check out Common Sense Education’s selection here.