More students are bringing cell phones and other devices to school every day. Oftentimes those devices are distracting students and causing issues at school and home. At the same time, teachers and students rely on devices, digital content, apps and other digital solutions as a core component of education, offering numerous benefits to teaching and learning. The tricky part is finding the balance between the effective use of technology and devices in educational settings and the potentially negative effects.
Fortunately, administrators and educators can play a key role in the solution by teaching students how to make wise choices about technology while leveraging it to help them meet their goals.
Educators at all levels have a responsibility to help students learn how to function as a positive, contributing members of society, including how to be a good citizen and what it looks like to respect others. Now, this education must extend to online behaviors. If our students are going to successfully leverage what the digital world has to offer, while avoiding the potential pitfalls, digital citizenship must be part of the curriculum.
"Digital Citizenship is a concept which helps teachers, technology leaders and parents to understand what students/children/technology users should know to use technology appropriately. Digital Citizenship is more than just a teaching tool; it is a way to prepare students/technology users for a society full of technology. Digital citizenship is the continuously developing norms of appropriate, responsible, and empowered technology use." - Mike Ribble, co-author of Digital Citizenship Handbook for School Leaders, ISTE, 2019.
Administrators should create a digital citizenship program that empowers teachers and staff to teach students what it means to be good citizens. The program should involve stakeholders from the school district and community, and should take family and community needs and concerns into account. An effective digital citizenship program empowers young people to do research and make wise decisions about the technology they choose to use. Staff buy-in is also important as the program should be school or district-wide and should constantly reinforce the concepts being taught.
While the upfront effort can seem daunting, the payout is a digitally literate school community that uses the best parts of technology to improve learning.
To support educators in implementing a digital citizenship program and preparing teachers to teach these important concepts, Vector Solutions recently published three new courses* in our Safety & Compliance course library:
These courses are authored by Mike Ribble, author of the book Digital Citizenship in Schools, and address topics including why administrators need to help staff and students become good digital citizens, what it means to be a safe, savvy and social digital citizen, how to empower staff and students to be wise digital consumers, and what it takes to create an effective digital citizenship program.
In addition to training for administrators and staff, we also offer Digital Citizenship courses authored by Ribble in our Student Safety & Wellness program for students in grades 6-8 and 9-12.
*Access to courses is dependent on your organization’s subscription.