When I think about the idea of digital citizenship and how I would incorporate the 9 elements of it into my class, the teacher brain in me immediately starts unit planning around it. I find how the elements are broken down really easy to follow, even for me. I’ll be the first to admit, and I already have, that I’m not the most adept with technology, but these principles are a great example of effective teaching: breaking a big idea down into manageable pieces. Taking this big idea and applying it to my theoretical classroom, this is how I would do it:
- Access: for myself as a teacher, remember that my students come from all walks of life, and all different economic classes. I need to be careful how I apply and assign classroom work to consider those who don’t always have access to what I require. One way that I could accommodate this is by allowing class time/resources to complete online assignments and activities, or by creating options for students such as working in pairs, working in class or the library, or simply by allowing students to choose between paper or processor.
- Commerce: My students need to know about buying and selling online, the signs of scams, junk and spam emails asking for money or claiming inheritances, and control over spending. One thing I would definitely include that is very relatable is using your family members credit cards. I cannot even count to amount of times I’ve had someone lament to me about a child using their phone/tablet/gaming device, etc and racking up an absurd amount of data or charges on them. It’s really important for kids to understand the consequences of clicking on that “buy now” button.
- Communication: My students need to know about good decisions online, and the importance of strangers and friends. The internet brings the “stranger danger” discussion to a whole new level.
- Literacy: It’s ironic that someone that doesn’t consider them-self technologically adept could teach this, but as an educator I need to be vigilant to what kind of teaching and learning technology is out there, and on my part that takes commitment to being a part of that learning community. What I could do is to teach my students how to teach themselves to be technologically literate: i.e. exploring app stores, being able to read ratings and reviews, and how to search for learning and technology tools.
- Etiquette: This is about teaching my students manners. It might feel like common sense to me, but there is a saying out there that “common sense is not so common” so even when it feels redundant, it is still important to cover the basics of online behaviour. One of the the most effective tools for teaching this would be the THINK concept: Is it True? Is it Helpful? Is it Inspiring? Is it Necessary? Is it Kind?
- Digital Law: This includes teaching my students about local and international laws such as piracy and copyright.
- Digital Rights: My students have digital rights, such as the right to privacy, and the right to freedom of speech. They also need to understand the other side of the coin though that every other person has this right that we need to honor and respect.
- Digital Health: Is it okay to come home from school and play video games until bedtime? These kinds of questions we would discuss, as well as things like the importance of talking to and doing things outside the world of technology. In a society where using our devices 24 hours a day, in every setting has become increasingly acceptable, this ties in nicely with etiquette. For example: please don’t take selfies at a funeral (why do I even need to say this?! Oh right.) When age appropriate we could also discuss the health impacts of the digital age: poor posture, repetitive strain injury, blue light impact, etc.
- Digital Security: Teaching my students about the importance of protecting themselves and their families, their homes, their identity, and their right to privacy.