Posted in Edublogs

Digital Citizenship

digital citizenshipEduBlogsClub Prompt #28:

Prompt: Write a post about digital citizenship

  1. How do you teach students about being good digital citizens and appropriate behavior on the web?
  2. Have you had any specific experiences related to students, behavior, and the web?
  3. How do you think that digital citizenship is related to in person citizenship?
  4. What would you add to the list of digital citizenship elements and why?
  5. How have positive and/or negative experiences online influenced your digital citizenship values?

Digital citizenship has always been important to me as an educator. I recall very clearly the last year I was in the classroom (2015), that I promised myself I would make digital citizenship a priority despite the lack of significant technology in my classroom. My students deserved it. They needed online skills. What I mean by lack of significant technology is that my classroom of 30ish 4th graders had 4 desktop computers and we had computer lab time for only a fraction of the school year when state testing or district testing was not occurring.

Despite the lack of a 1:1 or a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) initiative, I was able to teach digital citizenship. A safe way to do this was the use of Edmodo. It was safe for me as an educator because it was a district approved site and designed for student use. I took computer lab time to teach my students the ins and outs of Edmodo and they were very excited to use it. Because of our limited tech situation during the school day I fully expected most of the true interactions to happen at home where students were free to use their own devices. And use their own devices they did! It amazed me how quickly some of my students became cyber-bullies. It was shocking really and a very teachable moment. I would monitor Edmodo anytime I had the chance to, which meant several times a day during the school day as well as during my own time. I would then deal with any troubling issues like cyber-bullying as well as praise students for their creative ways of using the online setting in a positive way and related to their studies. I would always take a bit of class time to highlight things on Edmodo I had observed, the good and the bad. Mind you, I was careful to avoid publicly shaming students who had succumbed to cyber-bullying, but I did not avoid talking openly about it. We had very healthy conversations in class about what was good online behavior and what was not. I think it helped students to better understand what was bullying behavior and what was productive online behavior. It also helped students connect online interactions to their educations and not strictly social places to goof off.

I have been an ISTE member for a long time and have even managed to attend a couple of ISTE conferences. I highly recommend membership for all 21st Century Educators. They have amazing standards for Administrators, Educators, and Students that truly and clearly outline what sorts of goals we should have in all of those roles in today’s educational landscape. It has been the ISTE standards for students that has guided my instruction and motivated me to be creative and not let my limited resources prevent the instruction of digital citizenship.

I have been fortunate to have had many incredibly positive experiences online. The various platforms that exist to broaden our horizons and truly make us all global citizens is astounding. I want my students to be able to partake in that digital and global community and not only benefit from it, but contribute to it. That is why I teach digital citizenship with every opportunity I get.

Since I no longer have my own classroom, I have one active and ongoing student, my son: a 7th grader at Connections Academy, a public online charter school. Digital citizenship is a daily occurrence for him as his entire school day is spent online. He attends live lessons daily, which look more like interactive webinars for those familiar with such things. He interacts with his friends online as well, largely via Skype and whichever online game they happen to be playing.

Choosing online school was a family decision and took some rearranging of our lives. First and foremost I did not feel he was benefiting from what I call a “traditional” schooling within my own school district. Others in the online schooling community call it “brick and mortar” schooling. Either way, my son was falling through the cracks and also had to deal with escalating bullying. To make matters worse, he was officially diagnosed with depression and anxiety. As an online learner myself (I completed my second Masters degree online and am currently working on my doctorate online), and someone passionate about online learning, I knew this was a viable option for my son’s education. I believe online learning has been successful for my son and my family thus far (we started this school year). It did require my mother moving back in with us (which she was going to do anyway) so that my son could have some supervision during the day while my husband and I are at work. However, I have never had his schooling be so transparent. I know exactly what he is working on and how to swiftly and easily reach his teachers. His current grades are only a click away and always up to date. My son is using technology all day long which is helping his digital citizenship skills tremendously and helping him work on the other standards that ISTE outlines for students.

I don’t believe the teachable moments I have with my son about digital citizenship are any different than I had with my students in the classroom. The only difference is perhaps I am a bit more direct with my son as the filter that teachers need to use with children that are not their own is not necessary when it comes to talking to my own child.

How do you teach digital citizenship to your students? How do you teach it to your children? Is it the same? Different?

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Author:

Wife, mother, K-8 National Board Certified Teacher, doctoral student and dog lover. Passionate about educational technology, academic innovation, and redesigning the American educational system.

2 thoughts on “Digital Citizenship

  1. Hi Melanie,

    This is a topic I’m particularly interested in and I’ve written a few posts about it on my blog too. I really enjoyed reading your thoughts and experiences.

    I was pretty shocked at the lack of tech you had in your classroom in 2015. Many teachers would probably throw their hands in the air and use that as an excuse to do nothing. Good on your for being innovative. It sounds like Edmodo was really useful for teaching digital citizenship and other things.

    It’s also interesting to hear more about your son’s experiences. It must be a very well organised online school. So glad it’s going well!

    In my classroom, I was a big advocate for teaching digital citizenship through blogging. It’s so useful to authentically teach in an ongoing way — one off lessons about digital citizenship aren’t all that useful! I’m actually preparing a post for The Edublogger on digital citizenship and blogging!

    Thanks for sharing this great post,
    Kathleen

    1. Hi Kathleen!
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting.
      I am pretty shocked on the whole at how little tech my district has for its students. There have been some improvements over the past couple of years, but it still lags behind other districts in tech resources for our students.
      I would have loved to blog with my students, and would if I were in the classroom. It was always one of those things I always wanted to do and I had a rather long list of those.
      I agree with you completely, isolated lessons on digital citizenship are not beneficial. Students need to have an ongoing and authentic experience with online learning and behavior to truly learn what it means to be a good digital citizen.
      I look forward to seeing your post on the topic!

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