Digital Citizenship

on the go

Students and the web

So, your students are about to take that big leap into the world of echalk, google apps, and all the wonderful opportunities they provide.
"Opportunities?" you may exclaim, "more like a great big can of worms!"
Now, now, with any new technology there is the potential for abuse, but we can't deny out students electronic resources because we are worried about cyber bullying, any more than we could deny our students pencils because they are so sharp, or crayons because they come in colors that make them look like they are delicious, when they really aren't. So, we all need to band together to teach our students about digital citizenship.

So, what is digital citizenship?

Digital citizenship is the concept of being a respectable, considerate member of online communities, in the same way that you would be in real life. "Hah!" you might interject. Well, regardless, we all need to take steps to be a good digital citizen, so teach your students about the following concepts:

Digital footprint

Your digital footprint is the collection of everything by you, for you, or related to you that exists on the web. Forum posts, pictures, emails, blog posts all connect back to you, and often times will stay available long after you think they will. So, students need to know how to interact politely, and to post only things that they want their parents/teachers/religious authorities/presidents/employers/dear old grannies to see. Be sure to also mention that any google emails, chats, comments, or changes made to documents will be easily accessible to teachers and administrators at any given school.

Securing personal information

Information on the web is worth its weight in gold, except by weight I mean "a lot," and by gold I mean "whatever a cyber criminal can wring out of your credit rating." That's why we need to start early, by teaching students of all ages to protect their login information and to make strong passwords. We also need to teach students to refrain from posting personal information like full name, address, contact information, or daily schedule online, because anyone can see it.

Being information literate

We live in a golden age of information, where in the blink of an eye, students can get a hundred answers to a question, all of them different and none of them right. So, we need to teach students to carefully evaluate the sources they find online, checking them for things like currency, reliability, purpose, and authority (the reason an author knows about a subject).

So, you might be saying:

"That was pretty general. Where can I get some real information about teaching digital literacy, plus handy teaching tips, guides, and resources."
Ah, I'm glad you asked. You should start with a visit to your intrepid school librarian, who has studied and discussed digital citizenship in great detail (hint hint). There is also a handy website called commonsense media which has an entire digital citizenship curriculum mapped out.

You might also say:

"All right, you've convinced me with your well-written and handsome arguement. How else can I start working on teaching the idea of being a good digital citizen?"
The first step in showing your students what it's like to be a good digital citizen is by modeling the behaviors yourself. Be extra polite in that email. Point out the reliability of your source as you show it to the class. Think about who might be looking at your account when you are posting something on Facebook or Pinterest. Just like you take the time to be considerate, polite, and conscientious in real life, so should you online.