Rachelle Dene Poth is a Spanish and STEAM: What’s nExT in Emerging Technology Teacher at Riverview Junior Senior High School in Oakmont, PA. At the ISTE 2019 Conference, she received the 2019 Making it Happen Award. In 2017, Poth received the Outstanding Teacher of the Year by PAECT (the Pennsylvania Association for Educational Communications in Technology, the PA affiliate of ISTE) and by the NSBA as one of the “20 to watch” educators.
Digital citizenship is a topic that educators must continue to be mindful of within their classrooms and our schools. Because so many tasks involve the use of technology, it is our responsibility to embed digital citizenship into our lessons, so our students are prepared and knowledgeable about the responsibilities that exist and also expectations of them when it comes to digital learning. There is an increase in the technology used in our classrooms, students have more access to digital resources and global connections than ever before, so regardless of our roles in education, we must stay current with issues, trends, and resources related to this topic. Digital citizenship skills have to be a part of what we teach and model for students, mainly because we ask our students to do research, to collaborate online, and perhaps even use social media as part of our coursework.
There are many resources available to learn more about digital citizenship, ranging from participation in virtual or in-person learning events held throughout the year to websites, books, blogs, and more that bring attention to and information about this critical topic. When I first started teaching about digital citizenship, I recall telling students the things that they should not do rather than focusing on how to use the tools safely and responsibly and showing how they could enhance learning. I recognize this now as I have researched more and become more aware of the different resources available for use in education today and following the conversations happening in different educational networks. Along with what’s happening, we must convey to our students how to use digital tools, interact responsibly, and share the importance of knowing how to use these tools for good.
Building these skills is critical because they will transfer to the real world space as well. For some students, they build confidence and comfort by interacting with peers and become better collaborators in an online space first, then apply these to the physical classroom setting and the real-world.
Here are five resources to explore and which offer activities for students to explore on their own and construct their knowledge and apply it.
1. Events Educators can participate in Digital Citizenship Week, happening from October 14th through the 18th online. During this week-long event, educators can participate by connecting with other classrooms globally, joining in a panel discussion organized through the DigCit Institute and EduMatch Tweet and Talk, or listening to a DigcitIMPACT talk. Sign up on the website and stay connected by following the #digcitsummit hashtag on Twitter.
2. Online resources There are many interactive ways for students to explore DigCit topics. Common Sense Education’s Digital Compass provides interactive lessons, tutorials, and fun activities for students to engage in to learn about digital citizenship. One of the benefits is that students choose how to proceed through the interactive lessons, and can see the positive or negative effects of these choices. Digital Compass addresses topics such as cyberbullying, fake news, social media, and more that are in alignment with today’s trends. Be Internet Awesome by Google has students explore four lands and complete activities and games to build their digital citizenship skills. This is another right way to let students drive their learning, to become curious, and to develop their understanding in a space that is safe and supportive. 21 things for students offer 21 different lessons on topics related to digital citizenship, technology skills, cyberbullying, and more. Nearpod offers interactive lessons on Social Media use and topics related to Digital Citizenship in addition to many other content areas and levels.
3. Books Three books that I recommend are Digital Citizenship in Action by Dr. Kristen Mattson, Digital Citizenship in Schools by Mike Ribble, and Digcit Kids: Lessons Learned Side by Side to Empower Others from Around the World by Marialice Curran and Curran Dee. Each of these books offers a wealth of resources for getting started with lessons on digital citizenship, and they provide activities for use in our classrooms. Dr. Mattson’s book is also used for the ISTE U Course on Digital Citizenship.
4. Social Media Students are using more social media, especially Instagram and Snapchat. They need to understand how to post, information that is okay to share, and interacting responsibly and respectfully in these spaces. Depending on student grade level, it can be helpful to have students participate in a simulated Twitter chat, create a Padlet wall, or use post-it notes and space in the room to have students create posts and write responses. It is essential to help students understand how social media works and how to post correctly. We want to emphasize the safety of our students and knowing how to distinguish between reliable and unreliable sources.
5. Organizations ISTE (the International Society for Technology in Education) offers a Professional Learning Network (PLN) focused on Digital Citizenship for members. In PLNs such as this one, educators can find many resources for teaching about digital citizenship that match the grade level, content area, and specific needs of their students. Individuals can sign up to be a part of the #digcitcommit movement. DigCitCommit is a coalition with the mission of providing educators with the right resources for teaching students about digital citizenship. Educators can sign the pledge and become more involved in promoting digital citizenship around the world.
To provide the best possible opportunities for our students to learn their roles and responsibilities when it comes to digital citizenship, we need to start with one of these resources and include them in our daily activities. The idea is not that it is something extra added to the curriculum but instead becomes woven into our classrooms each day throughout the year.