Digital Safety and Citizenship
Once again, our school is very blessed to have a computer to student ratio of 1:1. It just so happens that our Instructional Technology guru has been a friend of mine since 1995. When I stepped foot in the building in 2016, our friendship was renewed and strengthened, and we found we had a new bond in our friendship and that was Instructional Technology. My friend and tech guru is my first line of defense in my online presence strategy. She is a genius with technology curriculum and online etiquette so years ago she had a plan intact for teaching digital safety and digital citizenship. She helps the whole school with either a homeroom plan or now the Flex Teaching Period (FLT) which is much like study hall where the teachers and students cover digital citizenship the first two weeks of school. We are either in homeroom or FLT and we teachers cover the Digital Citizenship module created for us. It’s awesome. There are articles we read with Nearpod quizzes embedded as formative assessments to make sure we are understanding the importance of our online presence. Yes, I take the quizzes again to keep myself fresh as well. I enjoy the modules, and as both an educator and a parent I realize their importance for the online safety of our students/children.
The Children's Online Privacy and Protection Act (COPPA) is nearly 20 years old. I realize that rights do not change, but my goodness, the cyber world has changed so much since 2001, and I have seen so many younger children become addicted to online apps and games that I think it could use an update. Even in schools separated from online games and apps, younger students are so happy to share what they have accomplished in the Instructional Technology realms, and the cyber world is taking advantage of them, so as Maughan (2017) interviewed librarians she discovered that they make it a point to teach elementary age students digital safety and citizenship at a very early age.
I As a strategy to “educate” educators with Digital Citizenship, I highly suggest them getting certified on the Microsoft Digital Toolkit. It is great to get points with Microsoft for building your educational online dossier. I wish our school did more with Microsoft. The lessons are free and are very educational and useful. I challenged myself to obtain my 500 Microsoft points by completing the course. It took 30 minutes, and I was proud to say that I received my 500 points. During the exam, we walked through Digital Literacy, Digital Civility, and Information Literacy.
It is important the we and our students be literate of the online world. We can make better-informed decisions, avoid risky situations, and can better understand how to maintain our privacy. During this and the following critiques, I am going to use my own children as examples. My household and I are constantly reviewing on how to make better online decisions. I know our children need to feel more independent, trusted, and grown up by having some private time, but they should not be setting themselves up to be hurt. It is our jobs as parents / teachers to protect our children. We should be keeping constant vigil. I don’t want my children making risky decisions. Making logical and safe decisions as children will manifest itself into making safe decisions as adults. Children must be taught to protect their privacy: Protecting bank accounts, mind, and body all together.
I have been fortunate that my children (twins: boy and girl) are respectful and caring of others. In the 3rd grade, they took two of their friends who could not get along with each other yet could get along with them as brother and sister to their school counselor. I was so proud. In life and digitally, they have civility. I’ve watched and listened to them as they play Internet games, and I am very pleased so far of their online civility.
From my own experiences, I know that it takes time to inculcate and evolve our information literacy. I am constantly teaching myself how to identify, locate, evaluate, and effectively use information from the World Wide Web to complete a task, answer questions, or research topics. This doesn’t come innately to children nor adults. It must be taught.
The Microsoft Digital Citizenship course does a great job of walking teachers through an instructional journey of the Digital Citizenship with its digital literacy, digital civility, and information literacy course. We are guided and assessed on how to digitally protect ourselves, each other, and online content.
Common Sense Media
I know my school has done an awesome job of teaching Digital Citizenship, but I am going to advise my tech friend/ tech guru coordinator to include the link for Common Sense Media as another strategy for teaching Digital Citizenship. I had to make myself stop watching the instructional videos. I also spent a chunk of time reviewing some of the videos with my own ten year-old twins. I’m sure Curran (2017) would be pleased with me as she shares the importance that educators and parents are an integral part of the process of educating children about digital citizenship since technology is at school and home.
After reviewing the Common Sense Media site with me for about 5 minutes, my children said they would change some of the graphics to make them more “tween-oriented” , but they sat and reviewed digital citizenship with me. I clicked on the Common Sense online games, and in unison, they said, “We saw those!” I teach at Dalton High, and for two years, they were with me in the same school system in one of Dalton Public School’s elementary schools. Their counselor/tech coordinator had guided her students (my children) on how to use Common Sense Media to guide them through digital citizenship. I didn’t tell them, but I was thrilled that both they and their classmates has such great online guidance. Returning to parents, we have got to know what is going with our children. Being online is just like every-day life. In paralleling our own children with students, we need to advise our students to not to talk with strangers, don’t share too much information, and do not disclose their location (turn computer location settings “off”). I think an educator could work with the Common Sense Media site as a full-time job. It is marvelous. The last thing I would like to share with parents is that hopefully a student will come to us in the fashion where they will 1)Stop using the site when they are unsure of safety, 2) Tell the teacher 3) Review which sites they have found to be safe, then 4) Pause, reflect, evaluate then move on to a site that is secure. True teaches support their students.
Nine Elements to Digital Citizenship
There is something intriguing to both adults and students seeing hints such as making sure digital communication is true, helpful, inspiring, necessary, and kind in a fun, digital cartoon. Completed with Powtoons (I’ve got to check into doing some Powtoons (I've seen it for 3 years, and I’ve not incorporated into my classroom), Nine Elements to Digital Citizenship is awesome for Children and an audio-visual tool strategy to guide students with Digital Citizenship.
I would say this video then although I reviewed it for parents, allow students to go back through Common Sense Media. There are so many “golden nuggets” of facts that the students need to see: 1) Teens in 2015 were spending a total of 9 hours a day online. 2) 70% of teens prefer shopping online and 3) 62% of working Americans use the Internet as an integral part of their jobs. Students need constant reminders of their school’s digital etiquette like when and where is it appropriate to be on your Smartphone! The cartoon also helps reinforce what students should already know about keeping their information private: Private user names, passwords, and log out of your computer if you use one in a public forum. As I said, this video coupled with students being guided through some Common Sense Media lessons would be very useful. I also want to mention that the Nine Elements of Digital Citizenship should be found on the www.iste.org site.
Global Collaboration Projects
To incorporate Microsoft Skype as a collaborative strategy is my number one choice in participating in a Global Collaboration Project. Please visit my Microsoft Page regarding Skyping. Since March of 2018, I have been trying to use Skype’s “Mystery Skype”. When I tell my students they are going to Skype with Hispanics from somewhere in the Spanish-speaking world their faces light up. The idea of a teenager communicating with another teenager from another culture is so authentic. I have a goal to create a collaboration with a class from somewhere in the Spanish-speaking world. As I was perusing some collaborative web sites, I realized I would love for my Hispanic students and their grandparents to make connections with their Hispanic heritage. I would expect some other Hispanic class from somewhere in the world to do the same then collaborate and report their interviews through Skype with us. There are some Hispanic cultural features I would love to revive (the Roman Catholic church, respecting elders, and extended family closeness), and I would like to laud and magnify them so as to bring them back. We may not find the answer immediately, but I truly think there is so much potential here for us to find a cure to revert to the timely, awesome Hispanic traditions through collaboration
Teachers' Guide to Global Collaboration
Having mentioned the collaborative Skype and awesome, Hispanic cultural traditions, I want to end with the Kindred Family History Project with family interviews as a strategy for collaboration. It is from the Teacher’s Guide to Global Collaboration. In 2019, we spend less and less time with our older relatives. They are a treasure trove of family history. In this project, the students are supposed to interview older family members about an event or events from the past connected to their families. By personal experience, I’ve always known of at least one member of a family who wants to stay connected to their family’s roots. I am one of those people. I truly believe that when younger people realize their grandparent or great-grandparents are, indeed, history, they will want to absorb more and more. The students could either use phone, Skype, Smartphone, face time, or all sorts of webcam audio devices for this collaboration. The individual collaborations are small, but they could be shared on a grander scale. Just imagine collaborating and sharing those timely, cultural, and familial connections that could literally re-connect the Hispanic world! I love positive and effective collaborations to make the world a better place.
Screen Cast Walk-through
Curran, M. (2017). P-20 model of digital citizenship. New Directions for Student
Leadership, 153, pp. 35-46.
Maughan, S. (2017). Teaching digital citizenship: school librarians lead students
in the tech age. Publishers Weekly 264, p35-44.