Digital Citizenship Lessons for Everyone: A Look at How Districts Are Educating Teachers, Students, and Families on This Perennially Important Topic

By Ullman, Ellen | Technology & Learning, August 2017 | Go to article overview

Digital Citizenship Lessons for Everyone: A Look at How Districts Are Educating Teachers, Students, and Families on This Perennially Important Topic


Ullman, Ellen, Technology & Learning


Have you heard about the sixteen-year-old who posted a selfie in which she proudly displayed her brandnew driver's license and credit card? Many of us have done questionable things online--hit "send" too fast, forwarded a work rant to our boss instead of our BFF, gotten into a flame war over political opinions--and recovered. Small mistakes are forgivable, but our students need to learn how to make smart, safe, savvy digitai decisions. Mere arc some examples of how different districts are handling this issue.

CURRICULUM REVISION

Forsyth County (GA) Schools is known throughout Georgia as an innovative district. When administrators implemented a Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT) initiative several years ago, they went with a Responsible Use Policy framework instead of an Acceptable Use Policy. "We consciously chose to use positive language rather than a list of don'ts," says Susan K. S. Grigsby, EdS, former district media specialist and the 2011 Georgia Library Media Specialist of the Year. "Instead, the document focuses on respect, keeping personal information private, acknowledging the work of others, understanding the purpose of using technology for educational purposes, and the responsibility to report the inappropriate use of a device or program."

That philosophy carries over into how the district teaches everyone about digital citizenship. After a team evaluated the current offerings on the subject, they discovered that there was a lot of focus on tech integration to improve teaching and learning but not enough on digital citizenship. This summer, they revised their digital citizenship curriculum with materials from Common Sense Media (commonsensemedia.org). PcbbleGo (pebblcgo. com), and Rosen Digital's digital literacy database (rosendigital.com).

Grigsby, who relocated to Singapore earlier this summer to work in the middle/high-school library of the United World College of South East Asia, says the revised digital citizenship curriculum will include everything from learning to log on and keep a password private to improving skills for researching the state database. R will include on-demand webinars and videos for students and staff. "We will be providing benchmarks of digital literacy along with tools, resources, and programs to reach those goals at every step of the K-12 student experience and are actively developing a similar program for our staff," she says. "If we expect them to teach and to model good digital citizenship, then we must provide them with the tools and resources to do so."

PROVIDE ONGOING PD

In 2012, the New York City (NYC) Department of Education created social media guidelines for staff. Lisa Nielsen was appointed to the newly created role of director of digital literacy and citizenship to support the rollout of the guidelines. Since then, she has worked to support her district to help ensure that staff, students, and their families engage responsibly online. Nielsen does this by providing professional learning opportunities and by working with teachers, students, and their parents to create materials such as guides and activity books.

Nielsen's team partners with Common Sense Education and EverFi to offer digital citizenship classes for teachers throughout the year. Nielsen says teachers like these programs because they include authentic lessons and engaging interactive digital programs like EverFi's Ignition and Common Sense Education's Digital Passport, Digital Compass, and Digital Bytes.

All NYC teachers are invited to attend day-long professional learning events that cover digital citizenship. They also have the opportunity to do additional work to become Common Sense- or EverFi-certified. "It's not necessary to get certified, but a lot of our teachers have done so," says Nielsen. "Teachers become excited about these amazing opportunities, and as a result they have become a community in support of this work."

Nielsen also educates staff in person and through herblog,The Innovative Educator (InnovativeEducator. …

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