But what is a digital citizen? Who’s job is it to educate children in digital citizenship skills ? When and where should we be talking with students about their role as a digital citizen? How does this affect what happens in the classroom?
A digital citizen can be described as “those who use the Internet regularly and effectively“. Or digital citizenship could be described as “The quality of habits, actions, and consumption patterns that impact the ecology of digital content and communities.” Or put simply “the self-monitored habits that sustain and improve the digital communities you enjoy or depend on.”
So, if we dropped the word “digital” from “digital citizenship” then really we would be saying the same thing, whether it is online or in the real world. We expect people (citizens) to behave in a way that is good for the other people around us.
Tidying up after ourselves is a skill in the real world. It could be likened to to making sure we sign out when working on a shared computer. Sharing is a skill in the real world. It can be likened to using creative commons in the digital world. There are constant links to real life and our world online.
Anne Collier thinks that we should drop the word digital because we are simply teaching citizenship to children. I have to say I think I agree with her. Teaching the 2 skills seem ridiculous. The two go hand in hand, if you are a responsible citizen in the real world then you are going to be a responsible digital citizen.
- Personal Information
- Personal brand
Using these 9 areas we can teach children to become good digital citizens. But just teaching is not enough. Benjamin Franklin famously said
So teaching children is not enough for children to understand how to be a good digital citizen. Experiential knowledge is also needed. Getting children to become part of their learning by joining collaborative learning communities, going projects such as Out of Eden Learn can teach children how to operate using social media. After all children will need to use social media effectively is they are to get a job and if they do not want to be part of a witch hunt. Get children to comment on others work in class, making a connection with the work, talk about what they liked, what they could improve and get them to ask a question. Mirroring what we expect from a comment on a blog. Using images that through Creative Commons we can use legally. Some schools like to use platforms or websites to help them in this journey. Atlantis Remixed, commonsense.org and iKeepSafe offer some great teaching and learning moments.
To me it comes down to:-
This is good practice to show children, even of 6-7 years old how to use technology responsibly. Digital Citizenship is a subject area that transcends ALL content areas, it is not an add on.
Another factor to think about is parents. Teachers and schools can only do so much. The road to becoming a good digital citizen is 3 ways between child, parents and school. I chuckled along when reading about Gregory’s iPhone Contract.
Explaining to a 13 year old boy about when and where he can use his iPhone was funny but unfortunately missed the boat with regards teaching him to be a valuable member to society as both a citizen and a digital citizen. Having regular conversations, talking about online behaviours, and the norms of respecting each other can benefit children’s pursuit to becoming a great citizen online and offline.
So how is it going in my class?
Well, we are beginning to talk about the what it means to be a digital citizen. The children have shared pieces of information with each other on their blogs. The children are now looking at these videos and making appropriate comments. They are making connections, they are saying what they like about the video, they are asking a question, finally they are re-reading their comment before posting. These skills about writing a comment, sharing information ( not the type of information that you want the world to know) etc are all skills that will help children understand what it means to be digital citizens in 2015 and beyond. After all these skills will last the children a lifetime.
We spoke about all of these topics and ended the workshop with parents posting their own comment onto our class kidblog using a 3-2-1 bridge thinking routine. The parents were taking part. Not just being spoken too.
This is not a one way road to digital citizenship. As Kevin Honeycutt said
Our kids are growing up on a digital playground and no one is on recess duty
Lets be there to model the correct behaviours online and offline, to our students. Online and offline…it’s all the same .Lets be citizens, lets be digital citizens.