My “Expert” Finds

In an attempt to prepare for my ‘expert’ discussion I decided to try and organize my thoughts into this post. My hope was that writing about it would guide me in my discussion and prevent me from rambling about nothing. All of my worries disappeared when we didn’t have to share last night although I’m sure I will have to share at some point so here it goes….

The two articles I have decided to share are “Everyone Says That Being a Good Digital Citizen Is Important…But Do We Believe it? Five Lessons Learned On Digital Citizenship” and “Turning Students Into Good Digital Citizens”. Both articles discuss how citizenship has changed and look at how we can better understand the use of technology by students in hopes to teach digital citizenship more effectively.

In the first article it starts off by asking if there are any students who are using social media and technology in positive ways? It seems that in the news we only hear about the negative side of social media and technology. With technology being more and more present in schools it is important that we teach students to be good digital citizens. Before we can teach about good digital citizenship we must first talk about issues that sidetrack us. The article presents five issues but I will only discuss four because the fifth is regarding the Children’s Internet Protection Act which is only applicable in the United States.

  1. What issues? Gaming addiction, online predators, sexting, cyberbullying, digital reputation, smart searching and knowing when to unplug are just a few of the issues relating to technology. It is important for you to determine which of these issues is most important to focus on for in your classroom.
  2. One life of two? For most students the digital world and real life do no exist separately from one another but rather co-exist. Because of this, it is important that we teach students about being responsible and respectful citizens in more general terms as opposed to in our digital life vs real life.
  3. Positive Adults. Adults are still trying to learn the complexities of the digital world and can be found struggling with what is appropriate and what is not. Adults participate in online shaming, email scandals and struggle with the appropriateness of using your phone in a meeting or when out with friends. If adults struggle, how can we expect students to understand how to use technology responsibly? It is important for adults to be positive role models and be willing to honestly and openly discuss online reputations so students can learn from us.
  4. Change perception. We need to focus on the students who are using social media in inspirational ways rather than always focusing on the negative uses of technology.

Lessons learned from a digital citizenship workshop.

  1. It’s not about the digital – it’s about the citizen. When laptops are used in schools the focus is usually on the technology aspect of it. We need to focus more on the citizen part of it.
  2. It isn’t about Facebook – it’s about what students bring to Facebook. Before the internet and handheld devices, teenagers would spend just as much time talking on the phone with friends or hanging out with friends. Students are using technology to connect with one another. “Understanding why young adolescents use digital media for good or bad, is still primarily understanding young adults—their needs to be part of a group, to be expert at something, to be recognized as an individual, and much more.”
  3. Is isn’t about unplugging—it’s about knowing what to do when you unplug. This is a very important lesson to learn. Our students need to know when to unplug and how to do something else. They need adults who can model this behavior as well.
  4. It’s not about being involved—it’s about having a voice in their learning. When students have a voice in their learning they are more likely to be involved. Why not allow students to create seminars or blogs about digital citizenship to share with other students and their parents. Take the AV club one step further and create a Digital Citizenship club where students can be advocates for digital citizenship.
  5. It’s not about parent nights—it is about true parent-teacher collaboration. Parents need to be involved and work with the school to help teach digital citizenship.

The article finishes by saying that digital citizenship isn’t something that should just be thrown into the classroom here and there as an add-on. It needs to be part of school culture and should involve everyone in the school on a daily basis. Just because students use technology on a daily basis doesn’t mean that they know how to use it safely and effectively. We must teach them how to properly use technology.

The second article I chose discusses similar things. It begins by looking at the term citizen and how it has changed over the years. It describes digital citizenship and argues that it goes beyond safety and civility. It focuses on the participation in worldwide online conversation that requires a set of sophisticated skills. It is important to identify these skills and attempt to teach them as a day-to-day skill set. The fact that technology evolves so quickly makes it difficult to have a skill set that is set in stone. One way that we can try to develop these skills is by creating assignments that require them to build these skills. For example, if the assignments require them to properly use a search engine, they will be more likely to properly use a search engine in their free time.

It discusses social responsibility regarding technology. Technology has eliminated physical borders and allowed people to connect with others across the world. A true digital citizen is someone who interacts with those in their local geographic community as well as those who are not in their local community. Skills that we learn from face to face interactions such as understanding body language no longer apply to online communication. We need a whole new set of skills to understand the words and messages we are receiving online.

In the article, Mark Frydenberg describes digital citizens as “someone who uses web-based communication and collaboration tools as part of his or her daily routine to share ideas, plan activities, and stay in touch with others”. His version of digital citizens blog, comment, like, chat, tweet, connect, and follow–they “live” on the internet and use it to stay in touch and build relationships, often with people they may never have met in person. He describes skills every student should have in order to communicate effectively online.

  • basic computer literacy skills (how to maintain a computer, use spreadsheets and databases)
  • basic web literacy skills
  • how to distinguish between information that is credible and deceptive
  • how to understand the difference between synchronous communication (chat, Skype, instant messaging) and asynchronous communication (e-mail, VoiceThread).
  • how to create a web presence beyond Facebook (blogs, wikis, Twitter, web sites, etc.)
  • how to tell the difference between personal and professional presence online (Facebook vs. LinkedIn)
  • how to use online collaboration tools.

Helen L. Chen agrees that these skills are important but argues that we cannot forget about skills such as critical thinking, written and oral communication, teamwork and the ability to adapt to new situations. Others agree with Helen and think it is essential that we teach students to think critically about the messages we see online.

Both articles shared similar ideas and stressed the importance of understanding what it means to be a digital citizen. They also suggest lessons and skills that we should be developing in an effort to create good digital citizens.

Here are some other articles that I found throughout the week.

Raising Digital Citizens

Digital Citizenship

What should I teach my kid about safe online behaviour?


2 thoughts on “My “Expert” Finds

  1. I love the point about what to do when you unplug. I think that can be a challenge for many adults, and it must be an even greater challenge for youth who have grown up ‘plugged in’ almost entirely. I think we really need to help kids find some passions that are not virtual so they can find joy in both worlds.


  2. Pingback: Own who you are | upandatomsite

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