Is it time to double down on digital citizenship training?

About a week ago, my 5-year-old daughter asked me a question I was not quite prepared for. As we were walking back to our house from the neighborhood park, she asked, “Daddy, when am I going to get a cell phone?”

She went on to explain the specific ways in which a cell phone would benefit her life. She even assured me that she wasn’t too young for a cell phone. In fact, other kids her age already had one! Even though it was difficult saying no to her sweet little face, I explained that she would need to wait a few more years to take on this type of responsibility. But, why?

My daughter’s question really got me thinking. With so many young people having increasing access to technology, is it time for schools to take digital citizenship training more seriously? …Read More

Could digital citizenship be the most important pandemic lesson?

When the pandemic prompted schools to quickly shift to distance learning last spring, educators became responsible for using online technologies to teach students. This was the first time that many educators had to grapple not only with virtual classroom management, but with helping their students learn the ins and outs of staying safe online. This included a crash course in learning and behaving online.

This set of “online manners” is referred to as digital citizenship, which is how we should behave when using digital tools, interacting with others online, and becoming better stewards of technology.

As a leader of a nonprofit where young kids connect and learn online, we prioritize teaching kids these important skills that will take them well into adulthood. …Read More

4 tips for an effective digital citizenship program

Today, students are not merely digital natives; they are voracious consumers and creators of digital content both in school and out. This increased access has also increased the risk that students will engage in riskier behaviors online or be exposed to content that’s inappropriate, or even dangerous. How to interact online in an appropriate way, and how to navigate difficult issues such as sexting and cyberbullying, often aren’t addressed in school curriculum, despite the huge impact they can have on students both emotionally and academically if things go wrong.

At the San Juan School District in Utah, we took some concrete steps in an effort to get out in front of the issue. As the district’s HR director and Title IX coordinator, I was hearing more concerns and seeing some worrying trends relating to cyberbullying, hazing, and sexual harassment, including some serious allegations involving students that occurred off of school grounds.

As a leadership team, we recognized the need to be proactive in order to ensure incidents like this would not happen in the future, and to accomplish this we needed tools to help us facilitate better communication among both students and staff about sensitive student safety and wellness topics.…Read More

Is digital citizenship the most important takeaway from distance learning?

When the pandemic prompted schools to quickly shift to distance learning last spring, educators became responsible for using online technologies to teach students. This was the first time that many educators had to grapple not only with virtual classroom management, but with helping their students learn the ins and outs of staying safe online. This included a crash course in learning and behaving online.

This set of “online manners” is referred to as digital citizenship, which is how we should behave when using digital tools, interacting with others online, and becoming better stewards of technology.

As a leader of a nonprofit where young kids connect and learn online, we prioritize teaching kids these important skills that will take them well into adulthood. …Read More

Promoting digital citizenship during a pandemic

When the coronavirus pandemic forced school closures and stay-at-home orders across the country, the internet became a social and academic lifeline for young people. Students are now engaging in distance learning daily. They’re also spending more time on social media as a way to stay connected to friends and family.

This increase in the amount of time spent online also means there is greater potential for problems such as cyberbullying and other concerns. It highlights the importance now more than ever of understanding and practicing good digital citizenship.

Related content: Moving from digital citizenship to digital leadership…Read More

How to teach your students to think before they post

Let’s start with the obvious: Kids make mistakes. It’s a normal—and important—part of growing up. But today, with smartphones, cameras, and social media everywhere, anything they do can be instantly broadcast and recorded—the good, the bad, and the ugly. In our 24/7 digital world, kids come of age, learn, and make mistakes just like they always have, but the stakes are so much higher than in generations past. So what does this mean for kids’ futures?

As teachers, we know that what kids post online about themselves and others can stick with them. And believe it or not, plenty of kids already know this, even when their actions may suggest otherwise. Lots of kids and teens—maybe most of them—know what it means to make good choices for themselves. But when faced with real-world situations, actually acting on this knowledge can be a lot more challenging. As one 13-year-old we interviewed noted, “If you’re a teenager, you’re gonna make bad decisions sometimes. And you might send an inappropriate picture. I mean, I hear about that a lot.”

Related: Digital footprint? Try digital tattoo, experts say…Read More

6 steps to promote good digital citizenship for all students

By the time today’s digital natives enter high school, most of them have already been using devices, computers, the internet, and social media for years. They use these tools on their own terms and for their own reasons, many of which aren’t readily apparent to older adults who didn’t grow up with tablets and mobile phones in hand.

This usage presents unique challenges for educators who must not only teach a standard curriculum and help shepherd students into adulthood, but who must also help promote good digital citizenship both in and out of the classroom.

Whether this means posting on social media only content that they’d be okay with everyone seeing; not using profanity; using their devices responsibly and safely at all times; or following the rules and guidelines when using classroom forums, Instagram, or other sites; raising good digital citizens is as challenging as it is rewarding.…Read More

10 findings about K-12 digital learning

Digital learning itself is expanding in schools, but access to classroom and home technology still remains a major obstacle, according to a new study from Schoology.

The State of Digital Learning report is based on responses from more than 9,200 education professionals and covers challenges, priorities, and student achievement as they relate to digital learning and edtech tools.

The study yields significant findings regarding challenges and priorities, the role and impact of technology, digital citizenship and emerging edtech trends, and professional development and learning communities.…Read More

Teaching digital citizenship to kids with learning and attention issues

It’s hard to overemphasize the importance of teaching our students how to use technology appropriately and responsibly. And what’s just as important is making sure we’re helping all our students build these essential digital citizenship skills. The students in our classrooms are unique, each with their own individual learning needs. Just as we differentiate our core content instruction to meet these needs, our approach to digital citizenship should take student diversity into account. So how can you best think about teaching these critical skills to your students with learning and attention issues?

Identifying student challenges
I would start by considering common characteristics of kids with learning and attention issues, and think about which of these characteristics could present challenges when teaching digital citizenship. You can, of course, anticipate that students with reading issues will have difficulty with the reading. And students with ADHD may act impulsively online and will have difficulty sustaining attention.

But the biggest challenge may be cognitive flexibility. Cognitive flexibility involves both flexible thinking and task switching. These skills let students think about problems in multiple ways—and abandon old approaches to try something new.…Read More