Digital Citizenship in an Online World: PART 1
By Jenny Windom, Rubicon International
In this first part of our two-part series about digital citizenship, we define digital citizenship and examine how teaching media literacy can go a long way in helping students be safe and engaged digital participants.
Teachers can use social media and the internet to foster classroom environments that engage students outside of school, as well as provide students with techniques for navigating an increasingly online world. At the same time, issues of online bullying, privacy, safety, and other digital dilemmas make educators more hesitant to engage students in online media. That said, as more of our daily lives transition to an online space, we need to emphasize and teach digital citizenship.
Developing media and social literacy in our students will prepare them to be responsible participants and citizens in the digital world.
What is Digital Citizenship?
Entire books and websites have been dedicated to this topic, and we’ll only be scratching the surface. Check out some additional resources at the end of this post!
Digital citizenship refers to the norms of responsible and appropriate behavior in regards to technology use. This can include developing technical prowess to adjust privacy settings in a variety of applications or honing “soft” skills like recognizing online social cues and interacting safely with others online.
Consider the age and level of your students when deciding online topics to address. Younger students don’t need to know how photos are geo-cached, but they should know to not share passwords and personal information.
Digital citizenship encompasses far more than “netiquette”. The standards of conduct when crediting someone or displaying copyright, the awareness of technological access (or lack thereof), and the ability to reflect on technology’s effects on physical and psychological health—among many other topics—are also facets of digital citizenship. Continue to research beyond this post to discover different avenues to take while teaching students digital citizenship!
(Digital) Media Literacy
Media literacy is the ability to engage in, think critically about, and create media. Media can take the form of magazines, television, movies, books, games…and, yes, the internet. In addition to understanding how media shapes our perception of the world, students who have a solid foundation in media literacy can read between the lines with information they’re presented and identify how they can generate their own messages and responses to what they see.
From a media literacy standpoint, there are a lot of topics students—and teachers—should consider. As they draw information from the web, students should understand Creative Commons and the role of copyright. Students should also comprehend that a wealth of identifying information can be drawn from the images and words they post. And, when sharing, students need to recognize whether information is appropriate or not. These topics—and more—are all components of digital media literacy. Digital media literacy explores how to engage with, think critically about, and successfully navigate digital media in addition to the other media we already utilize.
Questions to Consider
- What are the various components of digital citizenship?
- Do students know best practices for creating strong, varied passwords?
- What is a digital footprint and why should students consider it when they post online?
- Can students search and filter through content online, determining whether or not sources will reliably help resolve their questions?
- What is fair use and copyright? How can students use copyrighted information appropriately?
- Can students identify types of bias and provide examples of them? Can they interpret how bias affects the messages present in media?
- Do students know how to utilize technology in a visually engaging manner that maximizes the potential of their tools? Or, are they sticking with the same old techniques?
Do you have additional ideas to help critically engage students with digital media? Additional resources you’ve found helpful in the classroom that you’d like to share? Send a tweet @RubiconAtlas or find us on Facebook!