21st century teaching, Digital Citizenship, Nets-A, Professional Development, Tools

Getting Started with Digital Citizenship


Since the beginning of time, rules and guidelines for behavior in society have been in place. These aim to provide order, peace, and respect for one another and for the common good. When each person is a ‘good citizen’ everyone benefits.
The internet and easy access to the web has made this all-important task. Add to that the increasing infusion of social media into our daily lives and you’ll see that a once important task has now become a critical one.
It is important to teach digital citizenship in clear and easy to implement terms. Why? Is it because it demystifies it? Is it because it makes technology a positive force in our children’s lives? Digital Citizenship education brings benefit to all. It is supportive of students, teachers, school administrators, and parents. Besides that, a world where respect and kindness are brought into our digital lives benefits us all!

Challenges Facing Digital Citizenship Education

  • Differing Definitions Exist
  • Varied Focus – Depending on local issues and concerns, schools sometimes will chose to focus on one area more than others –  Cyberbullying, Plagiarism, Online Posting
  • Resource Overload – Though there are many excellent resources, it can  be confusing to select which ones are best for a certain classroom or school
  • Not in Curriculum – No actual place in the curriculum or in the schedule
  • Deciding who teaches it – Is it the technology teacher, classroom teacher or other? Often teachers may not feel comfortable teaching on a topic that is still somewhat new to them.
  • Age Appropriate is Important – Though the themes remain constant for many ages, lessons should differ according to age level and grade level.

The safety and security of all children is of the utmost importance. If schools and districts are not actively discussing Digital Citizenship, here are some questions to start with.

Digital Citizenship Discussion Starter for Schools and Districts

  • What is our focus? What are the issues we feel are most pressing?
  • What issues do our students and parents feel are most pressing?
  • What daily issues arise in relation to technology use by student? by educators? by families?
  • What does the data say? What does current research tell us about Digital Citizenship?
  • How can we make time for this important topic?
  • How can it be discussed daily? How can it be woven into all that we do?

Once a commitment has been made to teaching Digital Citizenship, schools can have teachers and students explore resources and select their favorites. There are also several excellent resources with full curriculum on the topic to use and explore which I’ll profile in my next post.

What are the important questions to ask?  Do you have favorite resources?

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