What is Digital Citizenship? A Digital Citizen is one who has the skill, knowledge and access to interact with others through digital tools such as computers, ipads, itouch, or smart phones. It includes: conduct in email communications, cellular text messages, or exchange of information through blogs and social networking sites; downloading materials from the internet such as music or video, and the buying and selling of goods; electronic standards of conduct or procedures; electronic law – legal vs. illegal downloads, plagiarism, damage or altering of information, viruses, spam; rights and responsibilities – what can be said as freedoms of speech and what cannot; digital well-being – psychological and physical wellness; digital security – being cyber smart and protecting yourself and your work.
Just as we wouldn’t allow a student to drive a car without appropriate instruction, or allow our children to go out on their own without proper safety rules, it is critical that we as educators provide training and instruction on how to use digital tools responsibly and safely. To start they should be aware of the nine elements of digital citizenship. Below are two excellent videos explaining these elements:
Depending on your students age and experience with technology you may need to provide them with some quick lessons. There are many readily available resources for the instruction of digital citizenship available on line. Here are a few of my favourites:
1. Microsoft has created a Digital Citizenship Education Curriculum which is a free resource for all educators. It consists of four key units and has an accompaying student website to do online related activities.
Unit One: Creative What? – This unit explores the general topics of intellectual property, creative content, and creative rights. Using the backdrop of a high school’s Battle of the Bands, the unit will help students define intellectual property and creative content by relating it to a common scenario they might encounter. Students will begin to recognize and internalize the importance of respecting creative rights, conduct their own research to better understand the relevance of creative content to their lives, and help clear up confusion about the rights that apply to them and their peers.
Unit Two: By Rule of the Law – Intellectual property is a valuable commodity, and thus, those who develop creative content are protected by laws in the United States and around the world. In this unit, students explore creative content copyright and learn about the rights they have as creators and the laws that exist to protect the creative process. The unit’s activities encourage students to form opinions about what’s right, what’s wrong, and how the laws affect them as creators, consumers, and good digital citizens.
Unit Three: Calling All Citizens – Copyright and other creative rights empower the artists, musicians, and writers who produce creative works. But how does the prevalence of online media — and its ease of access — change the conversation about those rights? With social media as the backdrop, this unit explores that very question, as the students learn more with the Digital Citizenship in Schools curriculum. Students analyze the use of creative content on social media Web sites, recognize the responsibilities involved with using these media, and form their own opinions about what makes a good digital citizen.
Unit Four: Protect Your Work, Respect Your Work – This unit explores the theme of protecting creative content through a series of experiential activities. Students learn how to protect their own creative works and how to use other people’s creative works in a fair and legal manner. They explore issues related to originality and plagiarism, and then have a chance to become agents of change in the culminating activity by developing a public service announcement.
2. Cybersmart Curriculum by CommonSense Media – Free digital citizenship and literacy curriculum for K-12 available online. Topics include safety and security online, manners and cybercitizenship, cyberbullying, digital citizenship, authentic learning and creativity, research and information fluency, and twenty-first century challenges. This website provides 9-12 curriculum outlines that include a scope and sequence, lesson plans, website links, and student work sheets.
3. Connect Safely – is a website designed to provide tips for students, parents regarding safety on the internet and in social networking. Some great links for your community include: The Best Way to Approach Netiquette, Tips for Smart Videogaming, Social Web Tips for Teens, Cyberbullying Tips for Teens, Teen Sexting Tips.
Netiquette: It is also useful to review with students netiquette or the basic rules of conduct which can be broken down into 10 simple steps. Just push play below:
To find out more about Netiquette click on this Learn the Net website and view the video and 10 points regarding Netiquette.
Feel free to add any comments regarding the usefulness of these resources or any other links that provide readymade lessons and tips for teens regarding digital citizenship.