Teaching Digital Citizenship is one of the most important things I think we can do for students. Few students (or their parents) really understand the nature of their own “digital footprint” and how much can be found out about themselves online. All of the information about you, available in digital form, can often be searched and aggregated by sites ranging from Google to Spokeo. This information is increasingly being used by employers and colleges to make decisions, so helping students and parents to understand the importance of maintaining an appropriate digital footprint from early on is vital.
Mary Beth Hertz, a Philadelphia elementary computer teacher, wrote a great post on Edutopia about teaching Digital Citizenship in the Elementary Classroom. She recommends that the good manners and social skills we tty to instill in kids from an early age should be extended into the virtual world as well, and perhaps at the same time. Children as young as six are joining social networks like Club Penguin, and will need an understanding from early on that social norms, good behavior and manners in person and manners online are equally important.
For teachers looking for a solution that can allow you to “practice” these interactions, Mary Beth uses “Schoology” (free) which looks a lot like Facebook, to create a virtual classroom. While I’m sure this does not integrate well with Pinnacle or any of the other things we’re currently using, it’s interesting to see how these walled garden social networks are popping up for use in education.
Kids are growing up in a very different world than we did, and they are adapting immediately. We need to make sure they are ready to face the challenges before them, including teaching digital citizenship as early as we can.
If you need proof, watch this video of the baby and the magazine below. Much like my 13 year old son, who, on seeing his first live musical at age 3, wanted to know if we could “play it again” like it was a movie in the DVD player, or rewinding a VHS tape, children being born today will have an expectation to be able to interact with almost everything in their environment.
To a baby, a Magazine is an iPad that’s broken. Watch how she checks to make sure her finger works fine, and then gets frustrated when the magazine does not respond. These are your students in a few short years. Get ready.