Wow…what a debate – Openness and sharing in schools is unfair to our kids. I have to admit I was swayed very early on once the disagree side began their defense of their stance. We all know that children will have access to technology from a very early age. Since they will have this access we need to ensure that they understand what lasting footprints they will be making with this technology. The classroom is one of the best places to beginning installing our kids with the knowledge and skills to be “smart” about technology.
We as educators have an excellent opportunity to help direct these kids into giving them the skills necessary to have lasting digital footprints that will not hinder their present or future lives. If we do not do what Lisa, Haiming, and Stephanie suggested; as in teaching, modelling and setting expectations for kids in terms of sharing information online in a appropriate manner – we are in the long run doing them a disservice. Therefore, we can and should at school begin introducing students to the ideas associated with digital citizenship.
But before we do that we must make sure that we have a “foothold” on our own digital footprint. As the author stated in Teachers, Take Care of Your Digital Footprint, “If you’re not controlling your footprint, others are.” Therefore, we must be vigilant in ensuring that we are active in controlling what is “out there” about us. If we have a proper footprint (that we monitor) than we can begin to teach our students to begin to create their digital footprint.
This process begins with introducing them to what digit citizenship is. And thanks to Katia and Alec for the link to this amazing resource – Digital Citizenship Education in Saskatchewan Schools – we as educators have a guideline to introducing it to our students. Being able to use this resource to educate ourselves and our students about Ribble’s 9 Elements of Digital Citizenship is essential to building a basis for our lessons.
Being able to understand the importance of digital access, commerce, communication, literacy, etiquette, law, rights and responsibilities, health and wellness, and finally security (self protection) – is essential for every child. If they understand the importance of these, we can hope that they will have a sense to protect themselves as they begin to par take using today’s technology.
Thus, if we want our students to understand these concepts they must experience them. We need to give them opportunities to begin to build their digital footprints while under the guidance of us at the school level. A very creative way to start the discussion on what digital citizenship is using the technique that teacher Sam Payne uses in his classroom. He has some great discussions with his students about the expectations for being “online”. His creative and engaging way to discuss this topic was very unique and inspiring (mainly because I have a huge comic book collection).
The following link is another small way that we can begin to teach digital citizenship to our students.
Finally, Teaching Digital Citizenship in the Elementary Classroom discusses how we teach social skills for our daily in person interactions but that we must do the same for our “online” interactions as well. Being able to be identify strangers, being friendly, an treating others with respect is sometimes easier in person than “online” when we are behind a keyboard. We must help kids learn this skills to help them protect their digital footprints. Also, if your division does not have resources to use you can rely on other divisions such as Regina Catholic to find ready laid out teacher resources.
We must teach children at a young age that it is their responsibility to share appropriate material and demonstrate how to create a positive online identity . If they have this instilled in them at a young age, the hope is that as they get older they will be responsible with their online behavior. We also hope that they will be responsible with their own but also with others’ footprints. As an administrator I fully encourage my staff to engage their students in understanding digital citizenship and how important it is to be knowledgeable in it. One of my staff members, Justine does an excellent job introducing this to her students. In her blog this week Justine discusses how she prepares her students by gaining an understanding of “rules” needed when online and the importance of be safe. She even has a class blog that is accessible to the parents, and it is a great way to begin to have her students make a positive digital footprint. Teaching them to be respectful of themselves and others is the underlying message of digital citizenship in her class. In essence Justine and other teachers are preparing their students for the connective world of today and tomorrow.