Wednesday, October 30, 2013
As technology becomes ubiquitous in many classrooms, teachers are utilizing their tools to inspire students to become engaged learners and responsible, inspiring citizens. Having access to resources from around the globe, our students can connect, communicate and collaborate with peers, experts and leaders from across the globe. These are indeed exciting times for educators, but with these new opportunities comes the added responsibility of teaching our students about digital citizenship.
As soon as students log in in to the internet, open an email account, download an application, they have become digital citizens and we shouldn't assume that our digital natives have all the necessary skills and knowledge about how to behave online. In order to get the best out of the internet we need to teach our students how to become secure ethical users, capable of making appropriate decisions that empower them to make a positive contribution. Fortunately, there is a growing collection of resources available to guide us.
The Digital Citizen website provides students, parents and teachers with a variety of excellent games, videos and activities to promote online safety. An infographic on the Educational Technology and Mobile Learning site would stimulate a great discussion with students about the components of digital citizenship. For more videos and articles to help kids make the most of social media visit Common Sense Media. Teacher favorites include Brainpop, Edudemic, TeachThought and Edutopia. But I believe the best resources can be found in our own classrooms.
Kids will make mistakes; it’s a fact. No educator ever wants to hear the words, “The Secret Service would like to interview you right now.” I have. Being a resident alien I immediately assumed I had unwittingly committed some awful crime against the state and quaked in my boots as I headed for my interrogation…I mean…interview. Instead, it was in regard to one of my students who had made a poor choice online. As mistakes go, it was truly a doozy. It could have been dealt with surreptitiously, it could have been swept quietly under the carpet but it provided too much of a powerful learning opportunity. By sharing the mistakes they have made with their peers, and the lessons they have subsequently learned, students become the ultimate teachers of digital citizenship.
As educators, students and parents we are all exploring unfamiliar territory. We have new collective responsibilities as we experience the excitement of being a part of a global online community. Teaching digital citizenship is critical. Take the time to talk to your students about their online activities, explore the many resources available to you, and most importantly embrace mistakes and turn them into significant teachable moments.