Digital Citizenship: Learning about the World

Stefans02 Flickr via Compfight cc

People of all ages are online today. From young to old and everything in between the world as we know it has become forever increasingly an online space. There are Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook posts for just about everything. We are becoming an increasingly online world. It is in these times where educators use social media to increase classroom engagement amongst other things.

After reading this article I couldn’t agree more. Students need to live one life, not two. Meaning that, as educators, we should promote the use digital tools such as social media in our classrooms instead of banning them. Incorporating technology into the classroom means letting students have one life where digital citizenship is encouraged. Incorporating technology means bringing in learning from around the world into the classroom.

When thinking about digital citizenship it can be broken down into many sub-sections. Though digital citizenship may not be explicitly implied, it is part of the hidden curriculum. Meaning, even though digital citizenship is not listed it should be taught. Just like how in the early years of education we learn to tie shoes, share, and treat each other as you would want to be treated. Though things such as these aren’t listed in the curriculum they are still taught in schools. It is the same with digital citizenship.

Digital Citizenship includes:

  • Safety and Security
  • Balance
  • Cyberbullying
  • Sexting
  • Copyright and Plagiarism
  • Access
  • Etiquette

Safety and Security: Have students question what is right, what is wrong, what a good source is, what an unreliable source is, how to evaluate digital sources, and how to be safe online. It is classroom experiences such as these that help create digital awareness, a positive digital identity, and digital literacy in today’s world. As well as how to keep devices safe.

Balance: There needs to be a balance between time spent on and offline. Like everything time should be spent on a multitude of things (i.e. learning on an iPad, playing outside, etc.).

Cyberbullying: As unfortunate and cruel as it is cyber bullying does happen. When it does or before it happens it is important to take the right measures, to have an action plan. As I’m sure you all know bullying (online or offline) can detrimental effects on children, teens, and even adults. I wanted to point out this resource, a twitter/ online community, that is a bullying prevention campaign designed to influence social change. It is a great place to start for parents, teachers, or students. Their account @i_am_stronger posts numerous resources and influential posts. As well, there are also many ways to contact (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, email, etc.) listed on their website for anyone who is wondering what to do to take the next step in addressing a bullying situation.

Sexting: A taboo topic with startling statistics. But an important one to address. It is our job as educators and parents to talk about this topic even at a young age. With the introduction of things such as Snapchat, instant messaging, and apps a picture sent is only a click away. It is of the utmost importance that we educate our students and ourselves in the best way we know how in order to reach our students before something, like a sext is sent out.

Copyright and Plagiarism: With tools such as copy and paste on the computer copying someone else’s work is very easy to do. For some students they may not know what they are doing is plagiarism, which is why defining what is and is not is so important. For example, googling an image and copying it and pasting it somewhere else is technically illegal, even if no one came hunting you down. However, when you select the creative commons option on search engines such as Google or my now personal favorite CompFight, as long as you cite the picture it is okay to use.

Access: Who is able to get online and when they are able to use it. It is essentially the digital divide. Not all students have computers, iPads, or phones use at home. What happens when those students go home? How do those students connect at home? For some students, the only place they may be able to use technology may be at school. Which is why it is important to consider all students accessibility to the online world before assigning homework that requires an internet connection. As educators, we need to find a way to make technology accessible after school.

Etiquette: When it is appropriate to do certain things online, what to do vs. you shouldn’t do, when to use social media, etc. For example, when in the middle of a physical conversation it probably isn’t appropriate to be texting someone else at the same time.

Digital citizenship is about so much, but it cannot be accomplished without tech integration. Which is why I plan on incorporating not only the use of technology in the classroom but also digital citizenship.


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