Posted by: Ed Brazee | August 19, 2013

(Digital) Citizenship…everyday

Not sure if you are going North or South?

The new school year is the perfect time to change direction. One topic that nearly every classroom needs is more time on (digital) citizenship where students (and their teachers) learn about safety, respect, and responsibility online, but also how to be ethical human beings. We aren’t talking about a separate “when we have time” event or special project. We are talking about (digital) citizenship as an daily part of the curriculum. Everyday!

More and more of our time is consumed thinking about,  discussing, or rueing the fact that our lives are dominated by technology. Isn’t it about time that we actually did something about it?

Here are several ideas that can take off in your classroom from day one.

1. Take 5-10 minutes everyday to discuss articles or stories from the media. Every newspaper or magazine or online publication is full of articles about the good, the bad, and the downright ugly side of technology and modern life. We need to talk about these issues with our students at school (and parents need to do the same with their children at home). From the obvious to the more subtle—talking and texting while driving, texting etiquette when with others, knowing when to turn your device off, and knowing how to differentiate facts from fluff online. Most importantly, is making sure that your students learn to be much more than facile with Facebook and tenacious at texting. Technology is to be used for learning and that lesson is the one that will be best learned by action, not just discussion.

2. Or try role-playing some of these situations that your class is reading, seeing, or hearing about. How about two friends who are out to lunch and one person pulls out her cell phone and starts texting, ignoring the friend in front of her? Or, a person who is talking on his cell phone about some personal medical information for everyone to hear? Or, how about two parents talking to each other about what limits on technology use they should set for their children and teens? You may be surprised at the level of understanding of these complex issues that your students will show. And, they will remember more from these role-playing exercises than simply talking about them.

3. What are several issues that students are talking about and obviously concerned about in your classroom? Knowing how to differentiate fact from opinion and facts disguised as facts? Are devices or Internet access restricted in your school? Why is that happening and what can your students learn about that? What restrictions do they have at home? What adults do you see who use technology positively and negatively in your opinion? How would you like to use technology to solve a problem in your community, school, or world? Your students have all sorts of questions, so use their interests as a starting place.

There are tons of excellent resources and activities around every possible digital citizenship skill or topic, but please note that I haven’t mentioned any of them here. Digital citizenship issues are in front of us and sometimes we simply need to use common sense to discuss them with our students.

Why not give it a try?

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