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How do we teach Digital Citizenship?

Whitney Hoffman Producer LD Podcast, Digital Media Consultant, Author

Everyone- parents, teachers and students- can agree that being a "good citizen" is important. We try to teach children these skills early on at home, in the classroom, and even on the playground. Now, our students socialize as much through text messages and Facebook posts as they do in the hallways, and often times these conversations happening outside of the classroom effect the environment inside of the school as well.

While we are all aware of cyberbullying, are we also taking the time to teach kids about internet safety, being informed consumers with internet commerce, or what is or is not okay with digital intellectual property rights and remix?

How do you define a good digital citizen, and how do we teach these skills? When should we start teaching skills to students? Are these skills that parents need to take on, or are they something integral to the classroom?

Comments (13)

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Producer LD Podcast, Digital Media Consultant, Author

This looks great Eric! I

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This looks great Eric! I will try to stop by!

Producer LD Podcast, Digital Media Consultant, Author

I had a great discussion with

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I had a great discussion with friends this morning that I think is important.
We talk about kids being Millenials and Digital Natives, but all that means is that they have grown up with this technology. It doesn't mean they automatically know how to use it well, or to its highest purpose. As an analogy, I've had a crock pot and microwave for years, but it's only now that I need to save time that I've learned to use them effectively rather than occasional soup pots.
As educators and parents, we're just learning how to use this tech and how to be comfortable with it ourselves (if we are comfy with it at all, which some are not.) So maybe part of the discussion is not only teaching them digital citizenship, but also teaching aspects of it to parents and other educators as well.
It's easy to assume adults know about this, but I run into folks that clearly don't understand even how boolean search works and how to improve their use of Google, let alone using social media and cultivating a good digital footprint.
So the next question is how do we teach the community as a whole, and where do we start? How basic and how advanced do we get? How do we make sure everyone has the same basic skill or tool set, when the tools change and evolve daily?

Director, Antioch Center for School Renewal

Whitney, I like these

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Whitney, I like these questions!
"So the next question is how do we teach the community as a whole, and where do we start? How basic and how advanced do we get? How do we make sure everyone has the same basic skill or tool set, when the tools change and evolve daily?"

I think it's less about the individual tools than it is about learning to be a problem solver and a learner. I'm reminded of my early grades "computers" classes from when I was a child. There was a HUGE emphasis on learning BASIC. We spent a lot of time on learning programming language which is essentially obsolete at this point. Was it a waste? Maybe- but I learned the basics (heh- see what I did there?) of how computers function, I learned that I had to be specific and exact in my commands, and I learned that technology wasn't anything to be afraid of- all lessons that I use every day.

So I guess we use the specific tools available to us today to teach kids how to use tools in general- how to seek them out, how to match the tool with the task, how to assess whether the tool actually does what we need it to do- and then we trust that they'll transfer those skills when the time comes.

(Btw- thanks for noting that Digital Natives aren't necessarily digital savants, born with an innate understanding of how to fix your iPhone. We don't do kids any favors when we assume they have a level of proficiency that may not exist.)

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