Digital Citizenship

The panel discussion on digital citizenship hosted by Frank Gallagher with input from Mike Ribble, Anne Collier, Chuck Saylors and Linda Burch. Frank, Anne and Linda all felt that empowering students was equally important to protecting them. The modern focus should be less on fear tactics and more on positive attitudes and behaviors. Chuck Saylors, the National PTA President focused on involving parents and the community. Three broad areas mentioned by Frank Gallagher, Cable in the Classroom Director, were 1) Internet Safety, 2) Digital Literacy, and 3) Digital Ethics. Anne Collier, Net Family News CEO, calls for digital citizenship to encompass four principles which include that it, 1) be uncomplicated, 2) have student involvement, 3) be empowering and collaborative, and 4) teach kindness and defense of others. Mike Ribble, author of Raising a Digital Child , and employed with a Kansas school district, hears the concern of teachers with fitting in a curriculum of digital citizenship. He feels that it should start as young as kindergarten. Linda Burch, with Common Sense Media discussed her organization’s  free, on-line curriculum for digital citizenship. She promoted a balanced approach using an authentic, universal curriculum. I would want to look up this curriculum for whatever grade level I am teaching and make sure that I am incorporating these learning goals into my teaching.

The panel participants had more in-depth insights which included that educators model that technology is part of life and not necessarily a sideline, that we need to think globally about digital citizenship and be aware of what other countries, such as Egypt, Finland, and the Netherlands are doing in this area. Digital Citizenship should be taught in small segments and continually updated. It could include peer mentors, and parent technology advisors. In the classroom, it is important to be modeling technology daily and in a spirit of problem-solving if problems arise.

I feel that the panel addressed very well NETS*S 5a-d, and the work that they are doing to establish some common goals for schools in the area of digital citizenship. They did not address directly issues of negative experiences on-line. The district in which I work has all technology standards as power standards. They were adopted in 2008, and mirror the NET*S. They are published on the district website.

Mohammed Bani Oraba’s video on the Nine Elements of Digital Citizenship offer a straight-forward definition, and jazzy music, but the topics are very general. There are no specific activities listed. Some of the visuals are repeated and all are general and somewhat vague. I don’t mean to be harsh. I think this video, with the music alone, could be a great opener for the topic, but would need additional support materials added to clarify the nine elements which include: 1) Digital Access, 20 Digital Commerce, 3) Electronic Exchange of Information, 4) Knowing When and How to use Technology, 5) Digital Etiquette, 6) Digital Law, & 7) Rights and Responsibilities, 8) Health and Wellness ,and 9) Digital Security. Also, elements six and seven seem very similar. In the classroom, if I used this video, I would ask students to break into small groups and expand on each of these ideas and then share with the larger group.

Dr. Tony Wagner’s seven critical skills for students could all be extended to specifically address digital citizenship. They correlate nicely with the ISTE NETS*S.

1) Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving – engaging these future employees in       continuous improvement of their product or services. This fits with the innovation mentioned in NETS*S 1. In the classroom, I would ask students to revisit some of their work and try to expand on some of their ideas.

2) Collaboration across global networks and leading by influence, and understanding and respecting differences.( NETS*S 2 & 5 ) In the classroom, I think it is important to encourage students to hear from everyone on their opinion, to practice respectful ways of negotiating with peers and keeping their presentations simple, clear and concise.

3) Agility & Adaptability to learn new skills.( NETS*S 1-6) How about having students keep a technology log and recording ways that they are using technology and new skills they are trying out.

4) Initiative and Entrepreneurship. NETS*S 1-6, especially #1 In the classroom, I might encourage my students to look at our school community and take the initiative to problem-solve solutions for the school.  Older students could come up with ideas and then convey these to younger students.

 5) Effective Oral and Written Communication. NETS*S 2 & 3 In the classroom, I would give young students non-threatening opportunities to practice oral communication and written communication. They could do a PQP, Praise, Question, Polish session with their peers.

6) Accessing & Analyzing Information. NETS*S 3 & 4 In the classroom, I would want to have students gather information from several sources and compare on whatever topic they were researching.

 7) Curiosity and Imagination. NETS*S 1,3,4 I read a very good book last term on keeping wonder alive in students. It talked about having systems in place for encouraging daily wonder. A place to share wonders, which could be done digitally, and a place for peers to give advice on what they know about these wonders.

Dr. Wagner discusses how innovation should be moving our economy forward, not just consumer purchasing. I believe that a conflict arises when you look at these important skills and try to think of how as teachers you will fit them all in. We currently place a lot of value on testing. I don’t believe that testing can measure most of these skills. They have to be demonstrated in the classroom and mostly in groups. To motivate this new generation of students we need to tap into their interests and their need for self-expression. I can relate this all the way from the primary students I work with to the highschoolers I live with!

Stephen Balkam’s video on digital citizenship echoes what the above mentioned panelists were emphasizing, which is a balance of safety and empowerment. My highschool senior is blogging in her hoped for career field and has already connected with like-minded students on-line. My sophomore has a weekly vlog. They have been empowered to make connections to what they are interested in. In the classroom, I think it is important for students to have access to digital resources which will empower them to explore what they are interested in so that they may feel like experts.

The Pew Internet Report on Teens and Social Networking reflects that most experiences on-line are positive. Most kids do experience or observe some negative attitudes which can involve swearing, rudeness, meanness, and fake behavior to mention a few. Teens know that they should act respectfully on-line, but some feel that they can act with more boldness on-line. Girls between 12-13 seem particularly vulnerable to unkind behavior online. Most teens know to ignore mean behavior and break the cycle of verbal on-line attacks. In the classroom, I would have a discussion or activity in which students could look at a scenario and determine whether the interaction was being done in a respectful way or in a way that might be interpreted as bullying.

Digital Citizenship must start in kindergarten, progress in small, continuously updated segments, be empowering and consider the needs of the future generation of workers.

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