The Need for Digital Citizenship Education

This week, we began rolling out our one-to-one pilot project at Saint Maur International School. Every student in Grades 6 and 7 now has a school-owned iPad that must be brought to school everyday fully charged. To my surprise, the project took off rather smoothly. I didn’t have half the number of student visits to the Systems Room as I had expected. However, as with anything that is new and largely unknown, a couple of problems did arise. First, a concern was voiced by a parent that potentially there could be times when student use of the Internet goes unsupervised. And this is true. Secondly, on the first or second day of the pilot, a student emailed another student under the guise of another student. I haven’t had the time yet to work out how exactly the student was able to do this, but my first thought is that they discovered the Settings tab in the email client. These events led me to the realisation that for the continued success of a one-to-one program in a school, three things are paramount: policies, digital citizenship education for students and digital citizenship education for teachers.


Digital Citizenship Education for Students
I’m not going to delve into why there is a need for policies (I’m also referring to usage agreements when I say policies) in a one-to-one program as I think the reasons are fairly obvious.

I realised this week that not enough was being done in terms of digital citizenship education for the students at my school. Nowadays, regardless of whether the school is one-to-one or not, all students should be learning about Internet safety, privacy and security, cyberbullying, and digital footprint and reputation (to name a few of the issues that fall under digital citizenship.) Let’s take digital footprint for example. We are simply not preparing our students for the future if we are not teaching them about digital footprint management now.

If I were a parent, I would feel a whole lot more at ease with a one-to-one program knowing that not only are there policies in place but there is student education on how to responsibly use technology too.

(While searching for more information about digital citizenship this week, I came across a ready-to-go free K-12 curriculum that specifically deals with digital citizenship.)

Digital Citizenship Education for Teachers
Digital citizenship education needs to be a faculty effort, that way the setting of double standards is avoided. Also, if it’s a faculty effort, a clear message is sent to the students about the importance of digital citizenship. For these reasons, it is important that not only students but teachers too are educated about digital citizenship.

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