Sunday, July 28, 2013

Teaching Digital Citizenship to Teachers & Principals

In a couple of weeks I'll  have the opportunity to teach the basics of Digital Citizenship to my school districts' principals, and a couple of weeks after that, I'll be including that topic in a back-to-school session at one of our high schools. Digital Citizenship is an area that I think is incredibly important, and very under-taught. It's one of those topics that everyone seems to think someone else is taking care of, and, in our district at least, I'm not sure it's really addressed much at all except in hidden pockets of unusually tech-savvy teachers. I love the analogies I heard recently about kids & Internet usage: that it is like a busy street, and we don't just build higher fences to keep our kids off the highway; we teach them appropriate behavior and safety skills. Or that it's like a wave pool: we wouldn't throw our kids into the deep end of a churning wave pool without teaching them basic safety skills. Either of those scenarios would be completely irresponsible, and unreasonable, but I often feel like we adults are much too quick to stick our heads in the sand when it comes to teaching appropriate Digital Citizenship skills (kind of like sex ed - but that is a whole different blog topic!)

In a school day that is already packed to the gills with curricular "musts" that teachers have to address every day, I can definitely see how Digital Citizenship (found on no standardized test I'm aware of) would take a back seat to more pressing issues. Nevertheless, I'm really concerned that we are doing our students a terrible disservice by not providing them with more specific information about the permanence of what they post online, tips on managing their digital reputation, appropriate digital etiquette, and handling cyber bullying, just to name a few.

In addition to daily Internet use, our district will have student email for the first time starting in August, and I know many teachers are nervous about how to talk to their students about using that resource appropriately. Student email should provide a great opportunity to start some discussions about being a good Digital and Global Citizen! I've been scouring the Internet for tips on Digital Citizenship, and I've found the nine elements (see this web site if you are not sure yourself), and I have some ideas of my own about what I want to convey. But I would sure love some crowdsourced feedback here. Here is what I'm wondering about today: as either a principal or a teacher, what do you teach your staff/students about Digital Citizenship? What would you like to know more about on this topic? If you were going to a Professional Learning session on Digital Citizenship, what you want to take away from such a session? If you have *taught* Digital Citizenship Professional Learning sessions, what has been the biggest success for you, or the particular topic that generated the most interest? What might you do differently in a future session?

Thanks in advance for any suggestions!


  1. As much as I've thought about this since you posted it, you'd think I'd have clearly formed thoughts and present them beautifully. But, nope. And if I wait around 'til I do it probably won't happen. So...I'm going to hack away.

    Thinking about your examples (streets/pools) I discern a fundamental issue for many teachers. We understand the necessity and function as well as the inherent dangers in streets and bodies of water. That creates confidence. We know how to educate for safe use and when to roll out the "do not cross this line" tape. The online environment is relatively new, requiring us to acquire a whole new and often uncomfortable set of skills. All that to say, WE need to be competent digital citizens before we can transmit those skills and values to our students.'re probably gonna have to begin at the beginning. Or we're going to get a GIANT roll of tape and go wide. Very wide.

  2. I use as a model for research in middle school. This is an interesting entry on social networking, and let's face it, the social aspect of it is what puts adults on edge.