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I recently had the privilege of participating in a digital citizen panel of experts included students (!) alongside Simon Helton, Richard Culatta, Sandy Barnes and was chat moderated by Alysha English of the IDEO Teachers Guild. First, let me just say how excited I was to learn about the IDEO Teachers Guild. This amazing space brings teachers together to collaborate on designing creative solutions to common challenges. The challenge related to the chat I attended was “HMW empower students to be better digital citizens - smart, kind, and secure online?” You can see all the project submissions here. No winners or losers (woot!) but you can check out which activities got the most likes to become ‘favorites’.
The chat started out asking for a definition of ‘digital citizen’. In the old days (i.e. last year) the term digital citizen conjured up images of staving off cyber-bullying, copyright best practice and a list of ‘don’ts’ by which student (and teachers) could monitor ‘acceptable use’. Fast forward to today and we have students leading national political discourse and inventing products and systems that improve lives and societies.
Sound use of technology (aka Digital Citizenship) is no longer just about keyboarding and citations. Citizenship in the offline world is characterized by engagement in community; including those with a different point of view. Digital citizenship simply transfers that behavior to the place where most of our interactions (for better or worse) take place.
Many kids have learned to “THINK’ before they post but if we’re truly teaching digital citizenship why aren’t we asking them to THINK as they create? Is their work true, honest, inspiring, necessary and kind?* What does that look like? It’s the following list of technology ‘do's’
If we shift our thinking about Digital Citizenship from ‘don’ts’ to ‘dos’ we create a framework for instruction on appropriate engagement that’s relevant including; respectful dissent and thoughtful discourse, integrity in representing work as your own or another’s, setting standards by reporting inappropriate use, collaboration, analysis of data for bias, curating and creating engaging content that connects with an authentic audience.
I challenge you to THINK how you might model and encourage positive digital citizenship in your next lesson.
*Editor’s note: Some schools list the ‘i’ as illegal. Consider how this might reinforce the us vs. them attitude in teens. How can you build positive relationships when the establishment is assuming the kids are criminals?
Carol Glanville, M.Ed.
educator, presenter, strategist, coach, design thinker