So…what’s next? How do we approach teaching digital citizenship?

Throughout the semester we have discussed a lot of different topics but all of them have digital citizenship as an overarching theme. Being at the end of the semester the big question now becomes what next? Where do we go from here? How do we take all of the things we have talked about and do something with it? What’s the next step?

Photo Credit: Jens Rost via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Jens Rost via Compfight cc

When I think about what I can do to encourage good digital citizenship in my students I sometimes struggle to think about how I will teach about the topic and involve it in my classes. I teach a lot of math, accounting and other business classes. I find it difficult to think about how I can integrate digital citizenship into my math classes. In math I think I will have to lean towards a digital literacy approach because just like Andrew I have students coming to me with information they learned from watching a youtube video or that they read on a website. The problem is that some of the information may not be correct or if it is correct it might skip a lot of steps making it difficult for students to actually understand the concept. I need to be able to teach students how to find information that is credible. I can also help students locate information by providing them resources such as Khan Academy to use. Although it is difficult to use the curriculum or content in some of the courses I teach to focus on digital citizenship or digital literacy I can use teachable moments in class whenever I hear students discuss social media use.

Sometimes I have the opportunity to teach Computers 9 or Information Processing 10 at my school. These are two classes that I will be making big changes to since taking EC&I 832. There is really no curriculum for the Computer 9 class. We use it at our school to replace the PAA 9 rotation that they have at the other high schools in the city. Because we don’t have proper shops we have had to adapt our course and have made a Computer 9 class for our students. In the class students usually learn basic MS Office applications, web safety, coding, blogging and web creation. With no set curriculum in place it will be very easy to update this course to include topics such as digital citizenship, social media and online identities. The Information Processing 10 curriculum is extremely outdated and can easily be updated as well to include topics such as blogging, social media, digital citizenship and digital literacy. I would like to have a bigger focus on the things we have discussed throughout this course that are so important for students to be aware of such as cyberbullying, sexting, digital footprints and digital citizenship. I think there is a lot of information that may not be as ‘academic’ but will serve a better purpose for our students.

Photo Credit: Joe Houghton via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Joe Houghton via Compfight cc

Cyberbullying, sexting, digital citizenship and online identity are topics that need to be discussed at home as well as at school. As Andrew and Rochelle have mentioned it cannot be left to the teachers to teach. Both Rochelle and Andrew mentioned that their parents were active participants in their learning but have noticed that it seems parents pass a lot of basic teaching responsibilities on to the teachers. No matter what the topic or lesson, parents need to play an active role in there children’s learning. There are a lot of ways parents can be active in their children’s learning such as keeping in touch with teachers, talking about healthy relationships, setting perimeters and boundaries for technology when necessary and checking in with their kids on a daily basis on more than just school. We all need to play an active role in teaching about digital citizenship. What do you think is the most important thing parents should be doing in order to teach this?

I came across this video discussing 3 challenges that we face when teaching digital citizenship. We are living in a time when technology is more accessible than ever before. Technology changes at such a fast pace that it is easy to get lost in the chaos. I think we need to understand that it’s next to impossible to stay on top of EVERYTHING involving technology, but it is really important to make an effort to stay as close to on top of it as we can.

The 3 challenges this video discusses are:

  1. Letting kids learn from their mistakes. This can be a really tough way to go when we talk about technology. If students update or share something on social media, the repercussions can be drastic. It is not easy to undo something that has been posted online (it is basically impossible) which means that a mistake can turn into a problem that can never be forgotten. The Solution: Teach children about the consequences of a post online. Share stories about others who have had to deal with their mistakes so that they don’t make the same mistakes. Students need to be taught about this at a VERY young age to prevent mistakes from being made further down the road.
  2. Keeping up with changes in technology. It is almost impossible to keep up and create rules and guidance for technology because it changes so quickly. Just when we think we have it all figured out, something changes. The Solution: Talk with students. Let students know the basics of digital citizenship and digital literacy so that they are prepared for any changes that may come their way. Have discussions about changes that happen and how those changes affect they way we use technology. Stay on top of things as best you can.
  3. Getting on the same page. Administrators, teachers, parents and students are all on different pages. Students are receiving mixed messages which can be confusing for students. The Solution: Discuss expectations with parents, other teachers, admin and students. Help the adults see technology as a benefit to students as opposed to a distraction. Encourage students to use technology for a bigger purpose than to upload selfies or play games. Encourage students to use technology to be activists, have a voice, connect with others and express themselves in a meaningful way.

The last challenge in the video really speaks to me because we have an pretty strict cell phone policy at our school. Students who are caught with a cell phone have had their phone kept in the principals office for up to 2 weeks (and no I’m not kidding). Our school has very high religious standards and expectations which creates some problems with using devices and computers. Parents and some board members are worried about the content that students will be seeing when they use their devices without close supervision. Cell phones are seen as a very large distraction and the concern about content being viewed has basically banned them from the school. But here’s the thing…if students have access to these phones and computers outside of school, are they constantly being monitored by parents while using them? My guess is probably not. Therefor, if they were to access any content that may be inappropriate my guess is that they would come across this on their own anyways. I think that phones and computers at our school are a distraction because they are almost TABOO so when students do get to use them it’s such a novelty. If we loosened our cell phone policy and allowed students to access them in class or use them for educational purposes I think they would become less of a distraction and more of a tool for learning. If we can teach students when it’s appropriate to shout out answers and when we should raise our hand or when to be silly and when to be serious, I think we can teach students that the cell phone is much more than a tool to watch silly youtube videos, text or share pictures with. This is something I would really like to see change at my school. With myself being on maternity leave right now maybe some things have changed. Andrew has been a big advocate for using devices at our school and I know we have made some progress over the years but I’m hoping that between Andrew and I we can make some big things happen.



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