Digital Citizenship, Myself, and My Classroom

My ECMP355 Blog Prompt for this week is to reflect on what we learned about digital citizenship and apply it to our classroom. As we were discussing citizenship in our online class, in particular the 9 Elements of Digital Citizenship, I first thought to myself: Nine things to remember? That will be impossible to remember and wrap my brain around. However, I thought back to a strategy that has helped me in my studies throughout the year, and one I can pass on to my students – to tie the knowledge you read into yourself. If I relate each facet back to myself, and can think of a particular experience or value of mine, then I am more apt to remember it. In this case, I will be flexible, in that I will share my ideas of what I would like to do with my classroom (or what I have personally done in the past) in regards to each facet. It will give you some ideas, will fulfill my blog criteria for my class, and will help me remember some important knowledge on my way to becoming a tech-savvy teacher!

Reflecting on Each Element of Digital…

Access – making sure all humans have the opportunity to develop an identity on the online world. We discussed in class that our world is not at a place where all humans have access to healthy food and water, let alone technology. It is a great element in principle. In regards to my classroom, I will try to make sure that my students have equal access to technological information along with book/people/visual information, when it comes to content learning AS WELL AS a format to document and share any knowledge (so more in the form of skill-building online… using power points, Google Docs, and so on).

Commerce – being aware of the legal and illegal ways that online technology merges/presents conflicts within our economy. The site mentions online shopping, but also the idea of illegal downloading. I think it is important to mention, at school, that we are not to buy anything online without getting help from a trusted adult (family member). It can be so easy to stumble onto a site and click something that shouldn’t be clicked, and then suddenly be owing something (especially on mobile devices where all contact info may be quickly gleaned from a phone – or some sites which save billing info from previous purchases). I also think it is important to get students to brainstorm and understand why some purchases online are legal, and some are not – what is the difference?

Communication – citizens need to learn how to make the best use of the many options of communication they have. When I teach I would like to showcase to students how useful technology can be in making new friends and learning from other people. I would like to have Skype conversations with other classrooms, or invite specialists in – who know about whatever our theme/unit in class is. If I teach older grades, where students are able to type and form ideas, I would like them to send e-mails to one another and teach it in a context where they are careful to share, give credit to ideas, etc. just as they would/should do in real life. For example, if I am teaching grade 2s typing skills – even if it is as basic as teaching typing itself – it can be done in a useful context where I set them up to exchange e-mails/messages with a partner. This way there is incentive – they learn that typing has a purpose, it isn’t just done for the sake of typing.

Literacy – learning how to learn, online. This is so important because I do honestly believe students will have a disadvantage to the rest of society if they do not learn how to learn online from a young age. This includes learning how to be efficient and effective (knowing the best search engines, the best tools to use to “get the job done” and so on). To me, literacy is synonymous with being resourceful. I think that having students experiment/research (ie. Do I learn better from Youtube videos or from writing for this assignment?) and then TEACH what they themselves find to be the most effective is extremely powerful (we learn more when we teach!) So setting up an open-ended project where the goal is to be able to show classmates what they used and why they used it (organizers, powerpoints, informational websites, photoshop, etc.) would be a great idea. How we get our information is just as important as what we get and why we get it.

Etiquette – how to conduct yourself online. The site mentions how, for the most part, etiquette is not discussed before children are immersed in the world of technology so it is sort of like learning on the go. They stress that there need to be more conversations around what you should and should not do (as opposed to just setting rules or banning students from certain things). In the classroom, I could set up an activity where something happened in real life – how would you react? Then I could set up a similar situation online and ask students what choices they have. I could also set up situations where students are the instigators (the previous scenario would be one for bystanders/victims in situations) by asking them “What if you did this … would that be OK or not? Why?” to get students to consciously think about the effects they have on others if they say things that could be hurtful. For example, “Imagine you are thinking about telling someone you don’t like a video they posted. Should you? Why or why not?” It could spark very interesting debates around constructive criticism vs. hurting someone’s feelings. For example: Should we give them constructive criticism if they are not asking for it?

Law – This can tie into digital commerce, but not always. Digital technology and the online world still has its legal terms that any users are to abide by. Some legal issues include downloading illegal software, stealing online property and using it as your own without giving credit, hacking or creating and spreading viruses, and so on. Students should be aware of the limitations they face online, and that they can face serious consequences (with the law – police). An activity could be brainstorming, with students, any situations they have been online that might be a) illegal or b) inappropriate, and then determine which are which by researching. Likely, many of them will actually be illegal (for example hate speech spread online to groups of people).

Rights & Responsibilities – just like in reality, online users have rights (at least here in Canada – does anyone know about worldwide online rights?) as far as privacy and free speech (with the exception of hate speech) goes. There are also responsibilities of online users in helping to decide how technology can best be used (according to the site). I think I am the least familiar with this area. Perhaps looking at the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and asking students how each could be displayed online could be a starting point for an activity.

Health & Wellness – both physical and psychological issues that affect ourselves and others, due to online use. We can experience anything from eye strain to online addiction. This could be a great area to integrate the idea of the medicine wheel and holistic health – our online well-being has to do with our physicality, spirituality, emotions, and mentality. The site stresses the idea of Internet addiction – that, in itself, can manifest in physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual ways. For example for spirituality, you may not feel as connected to the world, ironically, depending on what you are “stuck on” online.

Digital Security – teaching students that technology is not 100% solid. There are viruses, bugs, and human-errors that can cause us to lose data we worked so hard on. We need to teach students how they can organize, back up, and safeguard against threats to data. I don’t know how many times I have had near-scares, or actual catastophes, where I lose some or all of my work. I hate that pit-in-your-stomach feeling. When you write something by hand, it doesn’t take one wrong click on an “Undo” button to erase it all – online, everything can be gone for good in the blink of an eye. What could be done in the classroom is: We could peruse virus protection programs online to learn about what they do. I could also request that parents bring a USB memory stick for each student (and provide extras for those who cannot provide), so they get into the habit of backing up their work at a young age. That may be the best method of storage in the first place, because some computers erase all of their file when shut down. I think it would also be worthwhile to teach students about computer restoring and Temp files and looking for restore files (teach them problem solving methods of getting their work back that they think might be lost forever). We can also do some critical thinking towards whether, when we see a “WARNING: VIRUS DETECTED” – is it our computer telling us this…. or a website (that is trying to get us to buy something – or a virus itself if you click on it!)?

Final Reflections
(Taking into Consideration the Jurgenson article on “IRL” versus “online”)

I think that, when dealing with the topic of digital citizenship, we should make the learning vessel as authentic as the content we are dealing with. In this case, I mean that we should learn about Digital Citizenship both face to face (through discussions with peers) and online (through forums, research, and so on) because, as we have discussed, online identities are becoming inseparable – the online and offline personas are blending into one, and so our learning should be as authentic as our identities.

The reason I thought of this right away is because during my internship we began a Digital Citizenship course that was very integrated. It was entirely online, but not cut off from the class – all students looked at the content at the same time, and we had discussions about the values. The online class teacher did the first couple of classes with them, and so I was able to watch how she interacted with the kids and set up the course and thought it was great. The first thing was a multiple choice quiz, to see how “good” of citizens they were (their level of etiquette, safety, etc.) and then we had discussions as we went through the answers. Unfortunately I did not finish my internship and so did not finish that unit with the students, but I thought it was such a cool, handy, and relevant course to teach.

We would have then moved on to learning how to use forums, the idea of commenting and replying, and so on. It was set up in a private online course, but students could still have plenty of interaction with one another and learn how to be (polite, active, and safe) online users.

Therefore, when I take on the task of teaching Digital Citizenship (which would be touched on to some degree no matter what age) I would plan the unit around both face-to-face discussion and experimentation/modelling on the computer.

Random Self-Testing:
This is how much I remembered about the 9 elements of digitial citizenship after just reading the titles…

Access, Commerce (don’t count because I already talked about them), Rights & Responsibilities, Health and Wellness, Etiquette, and Laws… I could only remember 6 out of 9! Hopefully after writing about each, I can remember each.

ACCLELRHS – I remembered “Acclelerhiss” a made-up word as an acronym for the 9 words. This, combined with my personal connections I made to them through my own ideas, helped me recall each area:

Access (access to info and platforms of sharing), Commerce, Communication (type e-mails to classmates), Literacy (learn how to learn online – teach the class), Etiquette (what should I do? – theoretical scenario discussions), Laws (what must I do? – discuss illegal vs. inappropriate), Rights & Responsibilities (compare to Charter rights), Health & Wellness (medicine wheel/holistic), Security (USB memory sticks). I remembered all of this (I only forgot the classroom idea for commerce) without looking back at the long novel I wrote above.

Happy online surfing – I hope my rambling helped you learn something new and valuable, too!


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