Considering the sharp increase in student access to technology, school leaders must become more aware of the need to equip their students with digital citizenship skills. Digital citizenship training helps students understand more than a simple set of technology skills; it helps them become safer and more responsible when online as well as helping them become more discerning regarding their digital interactions, digital engagement, and digital footprint (Copeland-Whyte, 2019).
Does digital citizenship have a place in the classroom?
The most sensible place for students to receive digital citizenship training is right in their classroom. In fact, digital citizenship curriculums like the one from Common Sense Education offer easy to implement lessons from grades K-12 that touch on all nine digital citizenship focus areas (Common Sense Education, n.d.). Digital citizenship practices in classrooms must aim to increase each student’s ability to live in a world full of digital technology by helping them understand how technology can and should be used to be a responsible citizen in both the physical and digital worlds (Ribble, 2011).
The problem is, too many school districts have placed powerful technology tools in the hands of their students without adequate or proper training. This is a tremendous disservice to each member of a school’s community as it sets students up to fail and places the school in a reactive, not proactive, stance. When it comes to digital citizenship, it’s important for schools to move forward toward the future they desire to see. With this in mind, it’s time for school leaders to take digital citizenship training seriously and to ensure their students are being adequately prepared for the technologically driven world that awaits them.
Does digital citizenship training take time?
In terms of effective digital citizenship training, it’s important to note that its principles cannot be taught overnight. Educators must take a long view approach and should understand that effective digital citizenship training happens over the course of years, not days.
Digital citizenship training must continue forward as an ongoing conversation between all members of a school and its community. Like so many aspects of equipping students for a successful future, proper digital citizenship training “takes a village.” It’s never too late to implement digital citizenship training in a school–but remember, the biggest mistake a school can make is to ignore it altogether.
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