Positive digital citizenship cannot be stressed enough for the generation that will be leading tomorrow’s world. It is imperative that they capitalize on creating a positive self-image while utilizing social media to connect with others in the digital world. This can be challenging at their age but with guidance I think it can be achieved.
Maintaining a positive digital identity does not just mean posting happy things all the time. It means utilizing language in a constructive and intelligent way that will not make you look bad or rude. Sure, you can post about something upsetting you, or even have constructive debates with others on social media. The phrase I always come back to is “It is okay to be angry but it is not okay to be mean.” Developing a filter that will help them mentally and emotionally make the decision to make good decisions on the internet is key.
I do not think that we as educators hold all of the answers to technology in education though. It is important that we utilize and empower our students to help us become more digitally literate as well. I think if we show them that we are willing to learn from them that we will have a greater buy-in from our classroom population.
The first thing I have done in my class is allowed them to bring their smart phones and tablets to class, with parent consent. This was a hard leash for me to let go of because I have a number of teachers around me that do not allow it. Then I thought about what I was doing and if it was constructive for my students and I came to the conclusion that it was not. So I let down the wall of control over devices and invited them into my class. What I have come to realize through this “letting go” is that I have greater student engagement and more constructive conversations in class…. and did I mention my kids are rarely abusing the new privilege of personal learning devices.
I recently had a really good class discussion about text vs. technology. We brainstormed some of the pros and cons of each and they came up with this:
I then posed the question who prefers text, the result was….
Then I asked them who prefers technology, the result was…..
It was an overwhelming conclusion that they almost all preferred technology. I think our education system is slowly making its way to the Promised Land, but it is just way too expensive to have 1/1 tech to student ratio, especially for classrooms with 30+ students. In this case we need to try to encourage students and their families to send their devices to school so that we are able to utilize the vast library of information that is the internet.
Would we not see a greater want to learn from students? Would student engagement not heighten? I know I am excited to find out with my classroom!