In this week's class, we spent some time exploring what role schools should play in teaching digital citizenship. This was a particular area of interest for me as both Trevor and I did some research into this area last month for our assigned presentation (found below). As many educators would agree, digital citizenship is something that we absolutely need to teach because so many of our younger population are fairly experienced with technology, but may not be critical users or may require further skill development in being safe and responsible with technology. This point was further explored in Victoria's awesome presentation when she explained that "Students growing up in a digital age need to be equipped with the tools to think critically about the impact technology has on their lives". The bottom line? Students need guidance and support in becoming responsible digital citizens, and while parents certainly play a role in this, educators have the ability to make the biggest impact within a school setting.
Why Teach Digital Citizenship?
When researching this topic, one issue that Trevor and I came across was the viewpoint of the "Two Lives vs. One Life" approach. As we dug deeper into the Two-Life approach it became fairly obvious that this would not be something that would be practical or responsible to utilize when working with students. Viewing both home and school, as well as offline and online presence as two separate entities can be problematic because:
From a professional standpoint, the third bullet is one of the biggest reasons why this approach does not work within education. Educators would have to be naïve to believe that the issues facing students outside of their walls, wouldn’t find ways to manifest within their classrooms. In my experience, a lot of the issues that have occurred in regards to the inappropriate and irresponsible use of technology were issues that took place at home - outside of school hours. This is also a viewpoint that is shared by the Regina Catholic School Division, as they explain on their digital citizenship page:
“For young people, [cyberbullying and marginalization] start outside of school, yet inevitably infiltrate classrooms and hallways leaving teachers, counsellors and administrators to solve new 21st century problems.”(Regina Catholic Schools –Samaritans on the Digital Road. 2017)
Thankfully, the “Two Life” approach is not one that many schools or divisions are using within their buildings, as they instead opting for the “One Life” approach to digital citizenship. Not only is this approach the opposite of the "Two-Life" as it views both lives as interrelated and connected, but it heavily emphasizes the importance of educating and guiding our students at school as they journey into the digital frontier outside our walls. By utilizing this approach, schools play an instrumental role in creating digitally responsible citizens and also help to bridge the gap between home and school.
What Does This Look Like?
As was mentioned in the video by Trevor and I, according to a national survey of over 1200 American teachers, "Teachers top technology-related concern was that students lack the skills to critically evaluate online information." This is an important notion because if we want our students to become informed citizens, they must be able to distinguish fact from opinions and "Fake News", While initially, this may seem like an arduous task, it's a relatively easy skill that could be taught and applied into almost any subject area. As Trevor mentioned in his post this week, some possible examples of this could be:
In her post, Shelby also highlighted the importance of teaching media literacy and shared a great resource that she will be using with her students to evaluate the reliability of a source. The IMVAIN model is easy for students (and teachers) to use and with such a simple acronym, it will be easy to remember.
We Need to Practice What We Preach!
While the methods for teaching mentioned above are very important to teach digital citizenship, as teachers we also need to be aware that students are going to learn just as much from watching us, as they will from listening to us. With this in mind, educators need to ensure they are truly "practicing what they preach" when it comes to digital citizenship. Whether it's ensuring we are using Creative Commons images in lessons, crediting image sources or even reading the terms of service before using an app, I believe as educators, we need to do a far better job of ensuring we are demonstrating this for our students. In our group discussion this week, Brad brought up a point about teachers using their personal devices during a school day. While this may not seem like a big deal, when viewed through the lens of a student, it's hard to respect the digital procedures set in place when leaders aren't setting the proper example. As teachers, we expect our students to follow these procedures and only use their phones during the appropriate times, and for school-related purposes. However, how many of us have used our devices during a school day for personal use? I know I'm definitely guilty of checking a message or reading a text while I'm in the classroom (Don't tell my admin!), but what message does this send my students? As I've explained to my students time and time again, actions speak louder than words, and as educators and role models, this couldn't be more relevant.
As a bonus, enjoy the musical styling of Barry White to really hammer home that point. Enjoy!