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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation
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The Importance of Digital Citizenship in Social Media

There is an important scene in the movie Hoosiers during the team's first practice. The coach, played by Gene Hackman walks into the gym and gathers the team together. He tells his team that practice is going to be different than what they are used to. The montage that follows highlights fundamental basketball. The boys are engaged in agility drills, ball handling drills, and a variety of defensive drills. Throughout the montage you hear players asking when they are going to shoot and scrimmage. Hackman replies, "There's more to the game than shooting! There's fundamentals and defense."

This clip is the perfect segue into incorporating technology devices - iPods, iPhones, iPads, laptops, etc. - into your classroom. Before students can, to use a basketball phrase, take a shot, they must understand the fundamentals.

While students and teachers alike are anxious to integrate new learning tools into the classroom, we must err on the side of caution. It is our responsibility to empower our students by giving them the fundamental lessons in digital citizenship.

Like basketball, students must enter the world of social media and digital media with a good defense. They must understand the repercussions of irresponsibly using social and digital media and what affects it may have on their future. Give students time to use the device, but make sure they understand that the device is an outlet to many new avenues.

When you are presenting social media and digital responsibility, don't lecture your students on why it is bad to post inappropriate pictures on Facebook, but have them search for examples. Allow the students to not only find examples of inappropriate use, but also allow them to teach each other. Even though they have a Facebook account, do they really understand all that comes with Facebook? Do they understand their privacy rights on Facebook and other social media sites? Did they read the fine print?

Show them how to navigate through Google and present the best defense against infowhelm.

Introduce them to the Google sidebar and give them opportunities to find information on a certain subject. Introduce your students to Creative Commons and challenge them to find images and music that have the correct licenses for use.

The best offense always begins with a solid defense. This is true in sports and is directly applicable to responsible use of classroom technology and social media. In my last post I encouraged educators to "Just Get Out There," but in this post I am pulling back on the reins a bit. While we want our students to get out there and use new and emerging technologies, we need to give them the fundamentals to play the best defense. Educate, before you integrate.

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