Saturday, November 12, 2011

Tool #10 Digital Citizenship

Digital Citizenship is an important issue that teachers and our educational system need to address. Before the age of itouches, smartphones, iPad like devices, and social networks, the majority of student interactions with the web were confined to educational activities they did at school or playing computer games with friends outside of school. With social networking sites and ubiquitous smartphones, young people are now fully participating in the online world. While there are incredible opportunities to harness this power for learning to help students become productive people, students also have vast opportunities to be hurt by others and to hurt others by not realizing their duty as citizens of the online world.

ISTE has outlined some guidelines listed below that we, as teachers and society, must teach students about digital citizenship. Not surprisingly, the many of the topics parallel the discussions we must have with students about living in real society. Perhaps educators can and should discuss digital citizenship as it applies to the online world and the real world (should we refer to the real world as the offline community?) At any rate, whether one likes or dislikes student participation in online communitiies, young people are already fully ensconced in the cyberworld. We need to teach them to be productive members of any society. Using guidelines such as the one below will remind us that digital citizenship needs to be taught by everyone.
Student Learning and Academic Performance
Digital Access: full electronic participation in society
Digital Literacy: the process of teaching and learning about technology and the use of technology
Digital Communication: electronic exchange of information
School Environment and Student Behavior
Digital Security & Safety: electronic precautions to guarantee safety/physical well-being in a digital technology world
Digital Etiquette: electronic standards of conduct or procedure
Digital Rights and Responsibilities: those freedoms extended to everyone in a digital world
Student Life Outside the School Environment
Digital Commerce: electronic buying and selling of goods
Digital Health and Wellness: physical and psychological well-being
Digital Law: rights and restrictions

How do we teach citizenship to students and parents?
I believe that students should learn about digital citizenship an integrated part of their lessons. As students use the web for blogging for instance, a short mini lesson about ettiquette has to be taught and modeled by the teacher.  Occasionally, students ought to make short screencasts, public service announcements if you will, about being a good digital citizen. These screencasts should be included in the blogs for students to share with their parents as they show their parents online work that they are doing in school.

Alan November has taught us that students ought to be the driving force behind their own learning. Just as we can use the instructional strategy of "Flipping (where the student learns about the concept via video at home and practices homework problems at school)" in the classroom, we can also apply it to home instruction. Instead of the parents teaching students about digital citizenship or teachers teaching parents, students should be the ones to teach their parents about it via their blogs or tweeting to their parents as part of their classwork about citizenship.

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