Digital Citizenship is Much More Than Internet Safety

Digital Citizenship is Much More Than Internet Safety

Internet safety is a term understood by most parents and teachers. This term of the past has been replaced by Digital Citizenship. When I talk about digital citizenship to my peers, I often get several types of responses. Some will ask, “What is digital citizenship?” Some will mentally relate it to internet safety and believe that they are one in the same. Others have no idea and therefore feel that it probably isn’t important. Technology leaders and educators today feel differently.

9 Elements

            by Sylvia Duckworth/flickr

Digital citizenship encompasses many elements. It’s a covers a broad spectrum of the use of technology. Teachers can make a difference in their student’s lives forever by sharing knowledge on digital citizenship. So, what is it? Simply stated, Digital Citizenship is safe and ethical use of technology. Students are taught about their responsibilities of making mindful choices when they are online. They learn that what they do and say online is permanent. In other words, they leave a digital footprint or are making a digital tattoo while online. Technology is an extension of ourselves, a part of our everyday lives at home and in school. Most students are familiar with gaming, reading, and social networking. These activities are a minute part of the digital world, and students often are not taught how to communicate with others online. Digital citizenship includes netiquette, social networking and communication, media literacy, character education, online safety, searching, cyberbullying, blogging, choosing the right tech tools, buying online, copyright and plagarism.  The video below from Cyberwise explains digital citizenship:

What Is Digital Citizenship? @ YouTube

When should we teach students digital citizenship? A reasonable answer would be, “Before they are given technology.” However, we know that students are exposed to or own some digital tools prior to entering school. Parent education about digital citizenship is just as important as providing professional development to all teachers on the topic. Digital citizenship is not a class to be taught to students one time a week. Its a real life skill that should be incorporated into any lessons involving the use of technology A large part of digital citizenship involves character education and being a good citizen of the world online…making mindful choices, rethinking words before typing, showing some control over impulsivity, sharing positivity and knowledge.

digital citizenship poster                                          by Mia Mac Meekin @ An Ethical Island

Teachers starting in pre-school and kindergarten could encourage positive ways to use technology to enhance knowledge and learning. Connecting with other classrooms in the world via skype or blogging, creating videos about what they learn is motivating for students and teaches them how to express themselves or communicate online in meaningful ways. Lessons involving technology use teaches students how to research, collaborate, create and share information with a community of learners, which could be their peers, classroom groups or globally.

Please read the ISTE Standards for Students #5 for Digital Citizenship. On the same site are ISTE Standards for Teachers, Administrators, Coaches, and Teachers of Computer Science.

Let’s prepare our students, children and teenagers for the digital world by making them safe, productive citizens online any time they use technology, at home, school or with the  interactive global community! The following are some programs that are available for teachers to use to guide instruction of digital citizenship:

Digital Literacy and Citizenship Classroom Curriculum from Commonsense Media

Curriculum Understanding YouTube and Digital Citizenship from Google for Education

No Grownup Left Behind from Cyberwise

Digital and Media Literacy from Media Smarts

Teaching Digital Citizenship from Cable Impact

Welcome to the New Digizen Website from Digizen

Five Minute Film Festival: Teaching Digital Citizenship from Edutopia is not a program, but has many resources on the topic.

Elementary School Curriculum Copyright and Creativity for Ethical Digital Citizens and Faux Paw the Techno Cat from i Keep Safe

Professional development on digital citizenship can be found at iKeepSafeCommonSense Media, and  ecitizenship.

The following books are available for more information on the topic:

Digital Community, Digital Citizen by Jason B. Ohler

Digital Citizenship in Schools, Third Edition: Nine Elements All Students Should Know by Mike Ribble

Thanks to Mike Ribble, Frank Gallagher and Jason Ohler who provided much of this information at their presentations during ISTE 2015 . You inspired me to write this blog!

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