Digital citizenship is so important in today's world. It ecompasses so much more than online bullying and plagiarism. It is about teaching students to be good citizens in all they do online. Teachers need to weave digital citizenship into their discussions with students. Students need to understand these 8 dimensions of citizenship:
- Internet Safety
- Privacy & Security
- Relationships & Communication
- Cyberbullying & Digital Drama
- Digital Footprints & Reputation
- Self-Image & Identity
- Information Literacy
- Creative Credit & Copyright
Building Digital Portfolios, Videos, and Our Digital Footprint
In order to address digital citizenship concerns and begin teaching students about the importance of being safe online, students work to build digital portfolios of their work. This may sound like doing the opposite of what traditional digital safety courses recommend. However, it is important that students know how to build a digital footprint without revealing personal information. If students practice these skills in class, they will be more likely to think about what they post, find, and discuss when they are on their own. For this reason, as we build our portfolio, we talk about ways to take pictures of our work without including our faces. When we create our own videos, we discuss ways to film without faces using tools such props, green screens, and videos showcasing our experiments and what we learned instead of ourselves. Take the video below for example, in this video, students were reflecting on their erosion project. In this video, students were able to record their thoughts about their experiment without revealing their any personal information. Encouraging students to begin thinking about these things when online is an important conversation to have.
Interactions with Parents and Students
One of the best ways to build digital citizens is to create an open line of communication with home. I recently reached out to our school PTA to plan a night in May meant to help parents better understand the digital tools that their children are using at each grade level. This details of this night are still in the works, but I have plans to allow parents to bring their own devices to help them understand how to best connect with their kids, provide snacks and child care to encourage all parents to attend, record the event in order to share with those who were unable to attend, and showcase tools and helpful things to watch for as students begin working with technology at home.
Survey and Policies for Parents
Surveying parents on their comfort levels and providing clear policies on how technology will be used in the classroom can help the teacher better understand expectations at home and the parents to better understand expectations at school. The survey below is one that I have sent to parents. Each year, I make changes to the survey to help gather better information to inform my decisions in the classroom.
Over the summer, before initiating BYOD for the year, parents and students are mailed a letter introducing our classroom and our classroom policies regarding bringing in your own device. In order to put together this policy, I consulted with my principal and the district technology coordinator. In addition, I research various policies already in place by classroom in addition to considering ways we use technology throughout the day. Now, in my 2nd year of implementation, I have many of my students who bring their devices daily. In addition, parents from various grade levels and classrooms will oftentimes contact me in order to discuss what device they might consider purchasing for their child.
Interactive lessons on digital citizenship can be vital for students at all ages. It is important that students understand the 8 dimensions of digital citizenship and feel comfortable sharing things they encounter with adults. Creating this bridge will help students as they get older and the peer pressure online increases. The lesson below is one I designed with a fellow teacher to help students reflect on digital citizenship.