Exploring Digital Citizenship with Google

One of my goals next year is to improve upon and expand our existing Digital Citizenship model. So I’m excited to attend Exploring Digital Citizenship with Google with Craig Leach. Any school that incorporates technology needs to include meaningful, digital citizenship. In conjunction with Common Sense Media, he has been developing a Digital Citizenship Course.

He starts by telling us to explore Digital Citizenship in our backyard. It’s never hard to find stories about digital presence resulting in negative consequences. He provided us with 5 local stories that we explored, ranging from cyberbullying to student arrests. We engage in group discussions about the themes behind these topics. One element that I noticed is that schools are so focused on being reactive to these events instead of preventative. Dealing with incidents of cyberbullying or bad behavior online necessitates a broader educational program, including teachers, students, and parents (who are often left out). It needs to be consistent and pervasive education; if you are focusing on Facebook behavior, then you’re not preparing for the next tool. These incidences and events expand outside of the Classroom.

We next explored the definition of Digital Citizenship. Common Sense Media defines Digital Citizenship is “The ability to think critically, behave safely, and participate responsibly in our digital world.” An approach to digital citizenship needs to include balance: powers and perils. So you should talk about ready access to media, but also address copyright infringement.

Craig tells us that the topics that he likes to tackle inlcude:

  • digital life
  • internet safety
  • privacy, Identity & Digital Footprints
  • Cyberbullying, Communication, & Relationships
  • Searching, Evaluating and Citing
  • Reaching the Community

I like that it doesn’t wholly focus on “Stranger Danger.”

When Craig got a classroom set of iPads, he created some digital expectations and classroom guidelines for technology use. His acceptable use policy included protecting the devices as well as appropriate behavior inside and outside of the classroom. He recommends having students build their own policy in their own words.

We talked a little about Google Searching; show them how to find effective sources and assess it. He recommends that you explore google search tools and advanced search features. Navigating and negotiating online tools is important.

By using Google Research tools, especially features like “search by license,” you can engage students in conversations about licensing, copyright, and plagiarism. One of the great things about Google Tools is that they allow you to to instigate a number of empowering conversations about online engagement.

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