Monday, December 17, 2012

Digital Citizenship

What is Digital Citizenship?  Manson Northwest Webster describes it as using technology responsibly, appropriately, and safely.   It's one thing to use a tablet or computer and its apps to learn basic literacy skills.  In fact digital natives are quite adept at just that.  However, learning to create, read critically, use online content responsibly and be a respectful digital citizen are not always skills that can be learned without the guidance of a teacher.

We know students in many instances are much more savvy in using technology than the adults. However, putting technology in the hands of a child at any age does not automatically make them a good digital citizen.  Even at only two years old, my granddaughters know that an iphone, ipad, and a laptop are for communicating, reading books, and playing games.  But obviously they don’t know anything about using technology safely and responsibly.  They will need to be taught what digital citizenship means and given many opportunities to apply it meaningfully as they grow through their years.

Recently an experiment was conducted by the nonprofit organization One Laptop Per Child.  OLPC dropped tablets into a remote Ethiopian village and found that the children, without an adult teaching them, figured out how to use the tablet and in doing so used the apps to learn the English alphabet and basic literacy skills.  But again, there are many levels of using technology.  While these children were able to figure out the basics of the technology themselves, learning to read critically and create and participate online responsibly and safely was not possible without the guidance of a teacher. Sure, we can place a tablet in the hands of children who have never seen print, and they can figure out how to run it. But what happens when and if those children become connected to a global online community?

For many people digital citizenship encompasses much of what they do. With students maintaining and commenting on blogs, uploading videos and engaging in online learning, playing online games, and participating in social communities, it is imperative that they understand their rights and responsibilities when it comes to content creation and consumption, as well as how to conduct themselves socially online. That’s why MNW has a K-12 Digital Citizenship Curriculum.  The district believes teaching students to use technology safely and responsibly is an important part of 21st Century Learning.  All K-12 teachers use this curriculum to embed elements of digital citizenship into their lessons and units so it can be taught explicitly and practiced regularly.

Matt Ivester offers “10 Tests of Good Digital Citizenship”  that may help people of all ages judge their actions and make digital decisions. These are good considerations relative to Digital Footprints that are constantly being made. This resource is via a blog by Marcia Connor of the business world.

Most of you who read this post probably consider yourselves very proficient with technology use. But, after looking at MNW’s Digital Citizenship Curriculum and reading Ivester’s 10 Tests of Good Digital Citizenship, how do you rate yourself in the Digital Citizenship category?  Are you a good Digital Citizen?