As mentioned in my last blog post, technology in classrooms have multiple pros and cons. In this post, I wanted to talk about ways we can incorporate and educate students on the digital world, specifically in relation to Ribble’s Nine Elements of Digital Citizenship. Digital citizenship refers to the use of technology in a responsible way, and Ribble’s elements state how educators can teach students to utilize technology.
I believe that the most important aspect of technology for younger students is digital footprint. Educating students about digital footprint is important because many don’t realize that almost every single data submitted into the digital world will remain, and can be harmful if not cared for. An extreme example of this would be the case of Amanda Todd— a 15-year-old girl who committed suicide after being harassed by internet predators. Although technology has great benefits, I believe that it is also our duty to educate students on the “dark side” of the digital world as such, to prevent an unfortunate case like Amanda’s. I’d use Amanda’s case as an example only for students who are developed enough to comprehend the video as a lesson rather than fear. In Ribble’s elements, teaching about digital footprint would be involved in digital etiquette, digital rights and responsibilities. Digital footprint isn’t always as extreme as Amada’s case, but they can be utilized in harmful ways— a screenshot of an individual saying or doing inappropriate content is a common negative effect of digital footprint. I think that it’s important to teach students that even though we all have the rights to share and express anything we want, we have to be cautious and aware of what we share on the internet. In simple terms, don’t share anything you might regret in the future!
Other elements that relate to the general etiquette of the digital world are digital law, digital security and privacy. Many students, especially students who have easy access to the digital world (those who have a phone, tablet, laptop, etc.), are unaware of the harm they cause when ignoring general rules of the digital world. The most obvious, but not well followed, is to be respectful. When students make fun of others on social media “just for fun,” they don’t realize that those comments are more than just jokes. An easy way to introduce respectful presence in the digital world is by using the T.H.I.N.K method. Check out this educator’s blog post explaining what “T.H.I.N.K before you post” stands for and some cool statistics related to digital citizenship. Although some may think that it’s unnecessary and common-sense, giving even a basic lesson on the digital world will help prevent simple misconducts.
I think that some of the other elements can be taught later on when students are more involved in the digital world. For example, I can demonstrate proper crediting to the original creator by putting the credits into my lectures slides. By doing this, I can introduce the idea of copyright and crediting without it being “out of nowhere.” Another example is to embed digital health and welfare by monitoring screen time by limiting phone usage in class. I personally don’t want to take phones away during class because students might have to make an emergency phone call or search something up real quick, etc. However, I can monitor how much students are on their phone by only allowing them to use it once the lecture is over. Of course there are exceptions such as the emergency phone calls and such, but by limiting access to unnecessary usage of phones (social media, texting friends), I can make sure that students are focusing in class and less on their phones.
Although some may think that teaching students about digital citizenship is useless or unnecessary, having the basic foundation of what it means to be a respectful digital citizen can change the way an individual behaves in the digital world. As educators, it is our responsibility to learn and educate students on such topics that aren’t commonly discussed within classrooms.