What is Digital Citizenship?
“Digital Citizenship refers to the responsible use of technology by anyone who uses computers, the internet, and digital devices to engage with society on any level” (Applied educational systems).
Digital Citizenship ranges from the positive aspects from; the way you connect with others online, create relationships, to the negative ones; cyberbullying, and hindering your reputation by the things you post. This connects into deeper connections such as monitoring your Digital Footprint, maintaining a positive Reputation while online, and striving for Digital Communication and Collaboration.
It is important to start having these conversations at a young to help better prepare our students for their future. Google put out an insightful website called “Be Internet Awesome” this website is full of preparation resources for Digital Citizenship for elementary teachers and their students. Teachers have the opportunity to gain lesson plans to incorporate digital citizenship in the classroom, while students can learn from an interactive game online, called “Interland”. This digital operation lays the foundation for digital citizenship, and what it means to make smart decisions online. I think this interactive site and tools for teachers would be very beneficial in the classroom. It helps teach students the citizenship guidelines online and offline that will be beneficial in all stages of life.
Digital Footprint is the trail that individuals leave online, including what they send, websites they visits, location services, and submissions.
As a future educator, it is important that our students understand their digital footprint. With a growing rate of technology, there is always going to be information others can access. It is important that they are building a reputation that will better prepare them for their future.
Here are some helpful hints that can help our students keep their digital footprint clean:
1. Google Yourself- When students google themselves they can see what the world wide web has to say about them.
2. Keep Social Media Accounts Private- Encourage students to only allow friends, family, and associated peers that they are comfortable with to see the information they are posting online.
3. Keep track of Accounts- Most school systems create an account for their students, make sure they understand the difference between this account, and their personal.
4. Enable Location Settings- Make your students aware that their posts can be tracked through location, should they be giving away the address of their home or school?
5. Keep from creating unnecessary accounts- If you do not need an account for the site you are using, do not make one. This can help students to keep their personal information private, instead of intertwined into multiple connections.
6. Be Aware- Even though students need to monitor what they are posting, they should also be aware of what others post about them, including tagged pictures.
7. Terms & Conditions- Everyone is guilty of not reading the terms & conditions. At least encourage students to skim the document because it will inform them how the specific site will effect their digital footprint.
8. Posting is Permanent- Explain to students now that what they post today, can have an affect on them tomorrow because it never really goes away.
9. Enable Location Settings- Make students aware that what they post can have an attached location. It is not always safe for your location to be available for the public to search.
10. Be Kind- Express to students the importance of remaining kind online, and the dangers of cyberbullying.
Reputation is how you are perceived online. It is important to keep your reputation appropriate, positive, and respectful because it’s always going to be available to others. As educators and future educators, it is important we are aware of the reputation we are leaving online. Is it appropriate to have public social media accounts for our students, their parents, and fellow staff members to see? Should we create multiple social media accounts for our professional and public lives? These questions can be controversial depending on the teacher, school system, and the incorporation of technology and social media inside the classroom. The bottom line is that the information we post, or what others post about us needs to be appropriate in order to maintain a positive reputation. Click here to read an article on the importance of a positive reputation for teachers.
It is also important to encourage students to maintain their reputation. Even at a young age, it is important for them to keep up with what they post because it can hinder their future. Below is a video that can be shared with your students, specifically middle and high school students about managing their online reputation.Video: Managing Your Online Reputation
Here is a link that will take you to a Digital Citizenship poster that I created in my ECI 201 class. This poster has the incorporations of digital footprint and reputation designed for teenagers.
Digital Communication and Collaboration
Technology serves a purpose for allowing for multiple individuals to come together share opinions, deliver ideas, agree to disagree, and capture moments. This is the formation of communication in our to create a collaboration. This element is very enhancive for educators because we can use power of technology to communicate lesson plans, and collaborate on projects for our students. There is always teachers who want to help and share their ideas, this collaboration reaches many more individuals and leads to safe ways on how to work with others online. Click the link below to read an article on the importance of digital educator communication and collaboration.Article: Digital Collaboration for Teachers
What’s the Law?
We have discussed as educators what digital citizenship looks like for us, our students, and how it is incorporated in the classroom. Now is a chance to view how school systems and the government views the rights and regulations of digital citizenship. Below are two laws that focus on the importance of privacy and filtering in the lives of our students:
FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act): “A federal law enacted in 1974 that guarantees that parents have access to their child’s education record and restricts who can access and use student information. FERPA protects the access to and sharing of a student’s education… FERPA also permits schools to share information with another school system regarding a student’s enrollment or transfer, specified officials for audit or evaluation purposes” (FERPA SHERPA).
CIPA (Children’s Internet Protection Act): “CIPA imposes requirements on schools or libraries that receive discounts for internet access or internal connections through E-rate program- a program that makes certain communications services and products more affordable for eligible schools and libraries… The protection measures must block or filter internet access to picture that are: (a) obscene; (b) child pornography; or (c) harmful to minors” (FCC.gov).
Understanding the purpose of these laws is a tremendous ordeal in the lives of educators. We need to protect our students reputation while in school, by only sharing the allowed information set by government officials and school systems. By educating ourselves on these laws, we are helping to maintain the privacy of our students that is constructed online.
Throughout my ECI 201 class, I have learned the importance of Digital Citizenship and all its components to remain positive and safe online. Educators play a huge part on how students choose to portray themselves online. Starting in elementary school, teachers begin introducing digital citizenship by incorporating lessons on kindness and keeping personal information, such as their address private. As they get into middle and high school, they learn more about the dangers of cyberbullying, their digital footprint, and refraining from posting the scandalous picture that could hinder their college acceptance or future employment. It is heavily stressed by teachers that what we do online today, can have an effect on our tomorrow. In my future elementary classroom, I plan on incorporating videos, interactive websites, and in class lessons, that I learned about in my ECI 201 class. It is never too early to take the first steps in order to keep our students safe.
The same standards are set for educators online. As a future elementary teacher, I am making sure to keep my digital footprint clean, and my positive reputation. I want my future students and staff members to view my digital profile and recognize my professional background and achievements. This needs to be the mindset of all educators because their digital profile can be viewed by their students and parents if not under specific privacy guidelines. There are times when incorporating digital profiles into the classroom is beneficial, by collaborating with other teacher or classrooms or publishing lessons for all to see. However, there still should be guidelines such as creating a classroom account, and maintaining the privacy of everyone published in the account. The main takeaway is to educate ourselves and our students on the importance of Digital Citizenship and what to means to protect our futures.