October 19-23rd is Digital Citizenship Week. The ICATS are using this week to launch our Digital Citizenship Reboot for the EVSC by posting resources for raising awareness around 5 Core Values that we believe will help our students become better digital citizens. The resources we feature this week will become part of a larger library of resources available to you throughout the year.

Today’s Core Value: Be Understanding

With the tremendous proliferation of technology into almost every part of daily life (i.e. the Kohler Numi Toilet control panel), it is essential that we all have a basic understanding of how technology works. There are a number of important lessons that we can share with students that will help them to understand and be better citizens in our tech-enhanced world. These lessons might include fostering a basic understanding of the inner workings of a computer; discussing how a browser and search engine work; exploring how we can be tracked online through cookies, search engine logins, IP addresses and MAC addresses; advising students on how copyright and fair use works; and making real to students how each of these concepts can directly impact their lives.

kohler_numitoilet_controlpanel
Kohler Numi Toilet Control Panel

As educators we desire success for all of our students, and we work diligently to provide exceptional learning experiences so that they possess the knowledge and understandings necessary for success. Our 21st century reality, however, requires that we extend this knowledge and understanding to how technology works and how online behavior can impact online experiences. Many a project, day, and even career has been flushed due to a deficiency in understanding technology and its systems (see what I did there? 😊). We must teach our students the aforementioned concepts, and more, so that they can use and share their gifts of knowledge in a 21st century world without being hindered by tech-enhanced problems.

Resources for Developing an Understanding of Technology and Tech-Enhanced Systems

Here are a few resources that teachers can use to develop their understanding of technology and tech-enhanced systems:

We are crowd-sourcing digital citizenship teacher resources.
Contribute your favorite tools using the link below!

Click Here To Suggest a Digital Citizenship Resource

Videos to Start the Conversation

A great way to start the conversation about technological understanding is to share a video and then invite your students to reflect about what they have seen. Here are some videos that you might use based on grade-level:

Grades K-3

NetSafe Episode 1: What is the Internet? (Grades K-3)

What is the Internet?
Pause the video after each question and have students provide their own answers.
https://www.commonsensemedia.org/videos/what-is-the-internet

Grades 4-6

TedEd: Inside Your Computer
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AkFi90lZmXA

Solomon’s Story – Online Searching
https://www.commonsensemedia.org/videos/solomons-story-online-searching

Grades 6-8

Online Targeting and Tracking Animation
https://www.commonsensemedia.org/videos/online-targeting-and-tracking-animation

A Fair-y Use Tale

Grades 9-12

Use this video and teaching overview from NSTeens.org entitled Offline Consequences
http://www.nsteens.org/Videos/OfflineConsequences

Teach the Common Sense Media Lesson Copyrights and Wrongs (9-12)
https://www.commonsensemedia.org/videos/solomons-story-online-searching

Prompt discussion by using real-world examples:
NY Times: They Loved Your G.P.A. Then They Saw Your Tweets
NY Times: How One Stupid Tweet Blew Up Justine Sacco’s Life

Other Ideas to Promote Technological Understanding

Here’s a short list of ways any teacher can help students better understand the tech-enhanced world:

  • Any time students are researching share information on how search technology works, especially on how searches might be influenced by tracked online activity.
  • Look for teachable moments when you can share kernels of technological understanding. For instance, when a student’s computer locks up take a moment to instruct the entire class on what to do, and why it happens (if you know). This quick detour will pay dividends down the road as students develop the knowledge and confidence to troubleshoot their own technology problems.
  • Share personal stories about technology encounters and problems. For instance, a teacher could comment on the fact that this morning their breakfast order was taken by someone in a poncho using a water-resistant, wireless tablet. Then ask a question to stimulate thinking.such as “Why do you think orders being taken in this way? What might the benefits be? The drawbacks?” This engages students in a brief discussion of technology and asks them to bring to bear on the situation an understanding of technological concepts.
  • Personally use technology regularly in class and ask students to use it. Nothing demonstrates an understanding of technology better than a well-executed digital product.
  • Hold students accountable for appropriate use of creative works, especially images and audio.
  • Refrain from teaching technology skills in isolation. For instance, if you would like to build confidence with drag-and-drop incorporate a meaningful problem that requires the use of drag-and-drop in the creation of a 21st century product.

We must dramatically change our paradigm of the classroom in order to meet the needs of the 21st century student. This foundational change is elucidated by Sir Ken Robinson in the video below, and further rationale is provided in the ASCD article “Why Use Technology?” This paradigm shift brings increasing use of technology to our classrooms and necessitates that every teacher help foster an understanding of technology and its importance in their students. This is critical work, but we are up to the challenge and in it together. In this spirit, please share your thoughts and lesson ideas in the comments section below so others may benefit.

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Bill is an eLearning Coach helping to facilitate meaningful integration of technology to enrich instruction, engage students & develop 21st century skills. He is dedicated to enthusiastic, dynamic and technologically rich teaching as a means of creating and nurturing a lifelong love of learning in children. He has over 15 years of classroom experience and was the 2006 Outstanding High School Educator for Vanderburgh County. Currently he is a doctoral candidate for a Doctor of Philosophy in General Psychology degree with an emphasis on integrating technology, learning, and psychology. Bill maintains an active presence as presenter on the eLearning Conference circuit. He has a supportive wife Jeneen and wonderful son Zander.

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