Today’s society is engaged in a participatory culture (Jenkins, Purushotma, Weigel, Clinton & Robinson, 2009): they are interconnected through social media and technology. Individuals are creating, sharing, and posting information/media with a global audience, sometimes unaware of the effects of their online behaviours. As educators, bust most importantly, educational technology leaders, it is our responsibility to ensure there is a policy in place that addresses digital citizenship – “the norms of behavior with regards to technology use” (Ribble, Bailey, & Ross, 2004, p. 7). Students should engage in responsible technology use, as they would engage as responsible citizens in the classroom and in their communities (Kowch, 2013).
Educators need to understand the digital world and how it affects students and their learning. School board policies should be reviewed and understood. Schools need to create a school digital plan that address the norms and behaviors expected of students within their particular context (micro, meso, macro levels). Each age level will require a certain set of norms, as students use technology in different ways inside and outside of the classroom. Digital norms ought to be applied in both settings. It would be very destructive to tell students that they have to be responsible at school and then let them decide how to behave at home.
Once educators have created a digital citizenship/technology plan, they then need to educate and instruct students on the importance of these norms. Students should be cognizant of their digital footprint (i.e what is posted online can outlive you and can define you as a person), should engage in responsible communication (i.e. respect individuals online and do not cyberbully others), and use technology in a safe way (i.e. use a system that is secure and not sharing personal information with people they don’t know). Ribble et al. (2004) provide a list of 9 norms to digital citizenship which can help you determine which norms will guide your school technology use. These include (p. 7):
Being connected with a global and online world, students and educators need to be aware of the potential dangers and be proactive in ensuring that those utilizing technology should do so in a safe and responsible manner.
Jenkins, H., Purushotma, R., Weigel, M., Clinton, K., & Robinson, A. (2009). Confronting the challenges of participatory culture: Media education for the 21st century. Cambridge, MA : The MIT Press. Retrieved from http://mitpress.mit.edu/books/confronting-challenges-participatory-culture
Ribble, M., Bailey, G., & Ross, T. (2004). Digital citizenship: Addressing appropriate technology behavior. Learning & Leading with Technology, 32(1), 6-12. Retrieved from http://www.eric.ed.gov/PDFS/EJ695788.pdf