The education landscape is changing, and changing quickly. Digital learning, in its various forms, is becoming a standard part of the classroom teaching and learning experience. Blended learning, virtual schools, supplemental online courses, and credit recovery—the options are numerous, but they all have the same goal: to strengthen a student’s learning experience and improve educational outcomes. At Edmentum, we believe wholeheartedly in this goal and the power of digital learning tools to help educators achieve it. That’s why we are so excited to celebrate Digital Learning Day 2016!
Educators and students around the world are doing amazing things with digital tools to improve access to education and learning outcomes. Digital Learning Day is an outstanding opportunity to celebrate these successes, but it’s also a chance to engage in the important conversations about how to continue making digital learning more effective. That’s exactly what we hope to do in this post by looking at a critical topic: digital citizenship.
This increasingly important skill set, which refers to the best ways to guide online behavior, is becoming an important aspect of curriculum as more and more online tools are used in the classroom. Today, we’ll consider the definition of a “digital citizen,” discuss the importance of helping your students understand the concept, and examine some valuable tools and resources to get you started building digital citizenship in your classroom.
Defining digital citizenship
So, what is digital citizenship? There are lots of ways to define this term, but our favorite comes from the Digital Citizenship Institute:
Digital citizenship is the norms of appropriate, responsible technology use.
To better understand the complexity of digital citizenship and the issues of technology use, abuse, and misuse, the institute’s founder, Mike Ribble, has also identified nine elements that together make up digital citizenship:
- Digital Access: work toward full and equal access to technology for everyone
- Digital Commerce: recognize ethical and legal issues around conducting business online, and engage in Internet transactions responsibly
- Digital Communication: utilize digital communication options appropriately and respectfully
- Digital Literacy: learn and teach others how to effectively learn with technology in a digital society
- Digital Etiquette: establish and respect online standards of conduct
- Digital Law: abide by traditional societal laws and extend ethical behavior to digital environments
- Digital Rights & Responsibilities: define basic rights afforded to everyone in the digital world
- Digital Health & Wellness: Take precautions against the inherent physical and psychological risks of technology use
- Digital Security (self-protection): protect personal information from digital corruption
Why is digital citizenship important?
Learning skills to use the Internet appropriately and responsibly develops a foundation of social norms to provide digital learners with tools to understand how to act in positive ways on any online platform. These skills will help students communicate, collaborate, and conduct themselves appropriately in the online environments where we all spend an ever-increasing amount of time. As a result, students will be better equipped and prepared to greet the many opportunities, as well as challenges, that the connected life brings. So, dive in and get started guiding your students through this digital future! Here are three ideas and resources to help you get started:
- Get your students thinking about responsible online behavior by developing a digital citizenship pledge as a class! Talk about appropriate behaviors, and agree upon a code of conduct that everyone will follow. SafeKids.com has developed this great example to use as a starting point.
- Check out an online resource! There are many great programs and apps to give your students hands-on practice with digital literacy skills. Try our EducationCity Computing Module to introduce your K–5 students to essential technology skills with engaging, interactive content!
- Decorate your classroom! An Ethical Island created this digital citizenship printable infographic as a great visual reminder of digital best practices for your students.
Technology has had revolutionary impacts on the classroom and daily life in general. Take advantage of this Digital Learning Day not only to celebrate the amazing doors that technology has opened but also to help your students understand the importance of using that technology appropriately. By learning and applying strong digital citizenship skills, we can continue to make meaningful strides forward for everyone!