During the last meeting of the Flat Classroom Book Club (check out the recording HERE), the topic of discussion was Digital Citizenship. The conversation centered around how vital it is to teach students the skills necessary to become functional digital citizens. I really think it’s time for all teachers everywhere to examine what more we can do to facilitate student growth in this area.
Every time I hear a story about plagiarism or cyber-bullying or inappropriate use of social media, I shake my head. As much as it is our responsibility as educators to teach students to read, write, and compute, I also think we’re responsible for helping them become responsible citizens. This involves helping them learn about kindness, generosity, empathy…not only face to face, but online as well. If we were teaching these digital citizenship skills, I think there would be fewer instances of online “misbehavior.”
Many teachers will raise concerns about the parents’ role in all of this. “What about them?” they’ll ask. “Isn’t this their job?” Of course, the answer is yes. As a parent myself, I definitely know that the skills that fall under the “citizenship” umbrella are largely my responsibility. However, schools and teachers must play a part, too. Citizenship has always been something schools have tried to instill–I remember getting citizenship scores on report cards when I was in school–this shouldn’t change just because the 21st Century definition of citizenship has.
For this reason, I think children as young as 6 should be learning how to blog and comment on blog posts of classmates. Sites like Kidblog and Edublogs makes this safe and easy. I also think tools like Edmodo and Schoology should be used as forums for “practicing” positive citizenship habits. Finally, students should be collaborating and connecting in global projects as a way of honing these skills and putting them into authentic practice.
This would obviously take a huge commitment from schools, but it’s definitely worth it. I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please leave a comment. And please join us for the next session of the Flat Classroom Book Club, Sunday April 15 at 6 PM Eastern. Here’s the room link: http://tinyurl.com/BookClubRoom
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