Each time teachers comment on digital citizenship issues in the context of daily lessons and classroom life, they model, as all adults should, a digital intelligence — just what we want our students to embrace, whether they are working or playing in the today’s world.
As educators pay increasing attention to these digital digressions throughout the school day, they demonstrate critical values of 21st Century learning — and life — in a networked world. But more importantly, our students observe that just about every learning activity these days, whether digital or not so digital, incorporates time-tested values such as thoughtful evaluation, respect, collaboration, inclusiveness, and acceptance.
Five Digital Citizenship Minutes to Incorporate into Any Lesson
1. Pause for a moment whenever you use a web site, and explain one or two things that you like about it (or don’t like). Or explain just how you found the website
2. Share an irritating or inconsiderate e-mail or cell phone moment — telling your students how it feels and why.
1. Save Facebook, Google+, and other big-time social networking experiences for high school.
2. Know your child’s passwords.
3. Keep online computer activities out of the bedroom. Also, plan on no-screen wind-down time during the last half hour before bed. (Yes, even those bedtime friendly Kindles – why not use bedtime-friendly books?)
4. Set up an overnight charging area for cell phones and other gadgets outside of the bedroom, preferably on another floor or part of your home.
5. Consider writing up digital device contractsand using these agreements with your child. Feel free to take away privileges, or even the device, if your expectations are not met.
I’ve just finished up a digital citizenship unit with my students, covering privacy, digital footprints, digital communication and the lack of human cues, and a bit about how easy it is for a person to cyber-bully using sarcasm, criticism, and flippant comments. It’s a lot to cover in a month, but we manage quite well.
After we complete the classroom activities, and most of these are collaborative smaller projects, the children complete a final poster project. I expect the poster to communicate as much information as possible on one of the topics. The posters are not digital creations because we hang them in a school hallway — a digital citizenship exhibition — for a month in the winter.
I am always amazed at the way these posters demonstrate how much my students have learned. Some children focus on the artwork, while others are more text oriented. Still others use a computer, clip art, or a presentation tool, combining components to make their posters. Continue reading “Assessing Students but Not With Grades”→
Check out Is the Virtual World Good For the “Real” One? in the February 23, 2011 Huffington Post. The article, by Joseph Kahane, describes a longitudinal study focused on the amount of time that young people (age 18 – 29) spend online. Researchers wondered whether time in the virtual world may be keeping young people from paying enough attention to the tangible needs of the real world.
Kahane, who currently chairs the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Youth and Participatory Politics, describes some interesting findings and concludes, ” In short, the virtual world can be good for the “real” one. There are forms of online activity that can give youth civic and political engagement a much-needed boost. We need to fully tap this potential.”
Preteens are savvy media consumers, and among the kids I know there is significant buzz about Michelle Obama’s views on Facebook. “Pre-teenagerdom” is such a difficult and challenging time for parents and for the kids themselves. Many children want to hurry up and become teens and joining into social networking activities is one way to make them feel older and even wiser. Feeling and sometimes believing that your parents simply don’t understand technology is another way. So it’s a bit of a blow when the First Lady and First Mom — a person many of them admire — tells their parents to slow things down.
In the world of digital parenting, three words help adults understand how a child’s digital activities get out of hand. Using these words — magnification, intention, and consequence — in parent-child conversations can, over time, help everyone understand more about why digital problems occur.
Magnification – If digital media is involved, mistakes, even those made by well-behaved and thoughtful kids, loom large and quickly become public. The magnification of a seemingly small problem often leads to embarrassment or even humiliation for everyone involved. In the digital world, private mistakes can evolve into magnified public ones.
Intention – While the world of pre-adolescents and adolescents can be rough and tumble on any day, unintended reactions to their digital activities often surprise kids. Most often a problem involves one student communicating with another, and if the initiator had only taken even moment to think over an impulsive action, the incident might not have occurred.
Consequence – If a digital problem becomes too public, too magnified, and too hurtful, consequences matter much more than anything a child intended to happen. From a young age, we teach children to say they are sorry when something goes wrong, but in the digital world, the degree of hurt and humiliation may mean that an apology is only the beginning of the recovery process.
Most adults remember a time when behavioral mistakes were more private. Rarely were our errors, even the big ones, known by more than a few people. The mechanisms for passing information from place to place, for broadcasting a problem to the world, were minimal. Times have changed.
This video below — Stop Think Connect — is a helpful resource for families with children in grades 4 – 7.
The next time you watch your child begin a web search for a school project or other academic activity, take a few minutes to observe more closely how he or she selects web resources. In Trust Online: Young Adults’ Evaluation of Web Content (this abstract site leads to a free PDF of the article), professor Eszter Hargittai and colleagues form the Web Use Projectat Northwestern University, describe how students tend to place huge amounts of trust in the initial hits retrieved by search engines such as Google and Yahoo.
With first year students in a required writing course at the University of Illinois Chicago (chosen because of its highly diverse student body) researchers conducted a written survey of 1060 students enrolled in the classes. Next researchers selected a stratified random sample of 192 students to observe in person as each student performed 12 specific web-based tasks. Learn more about a stratified random sample.
To complete a web-based task, students usually went to a search engine.
After search engines presented links, students tended to follow the first few links, apparently assuming that the first links in a search were reliable resources to pursue.
When they looked at a list of provided links, some had difficulty knowing the difference between regular links and sponsored links.
As they followed these links, students did not appear concerned about who authored the sites that they found (only 10 percent of the students commented about a site’s authors or the credentials presented).
To complete tasks students relied on brand names, and corporate brands dominated.
SparkNotes, an online version of Cliff Notes, dominated.
For credible sources many students favored .gov and .edu sites as more credible sites.
Many expressed trust in .org, because they are all not-for-profit sites, although these days just about anyone can get a .org web address.
To verify information, less than half of the observed students consulted a second website.