The Internet can be overwhelming with the amount of apps and tools available to students. As educators or parents it can be difficult to keep up with the trending technology or even attempt to become an expert in each tool. Even tools we are already familiar with are continually evolving. Although it can be challenging to learn all tools, it is important that we understand its characteristics and how the tool allows students to be good digital citizens. Ribble, Bailey, & Ross (2004) provide 9 norms to digital citizenship (see Digital Citizenship Norms (EDER679.10)) that should be reviewed when considering app use.
The most important norm to review first would be security (Ribble et al., 2004). Make sure to understand how the tool is being accessed whether it is public, password protected or private. Students should be aware of who has access to their information and content and why it is important to keep certain information private. Take Facebook for example, Facebook has many different privacy settings such as who can access your Facebook page, who can email you, who can view your pictures, who can see where you are living, your birthday, etc. Students should understand why they should limit who has access to their information and what they should share online. Some businesses today are looking at sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn to learn more about potential employees. If a student has a bad digital footprint, they are less likely to get the job they want.
Next, I would consider communication (Ribble et al., 2004). Do students have opportunities to communicate with others through the online tool? If so, can they do it in a safe manner? Are their conversations public or private? Take Twitter for example; every post communicated through Twitter is public to the entire world unless the message is sent through a direct message. This can be a huge security issue for younger students, as they may not understand that what goes out there, stays out there. I am aware that younger students cannot own their own Twitter account as they are too young, but if educators decide to go ahead with a class Twitter account, they will need to have a plan in place to educate (education norm) their students on proper netiquette (etiquette norm) and responsibility.
With every good app, the last step would be to have a plan to educate students on proper technology use of the identified tool (education norm – Ribble et al., 2004). Students need to be aware of the positive and negative impact they could have when using the tool. This is where the other norms come into play with being a responsible user (responsibility norm), understanding intellectual property rights (rights norm), avoiding online purchases (commerce norm) and understanding the security and communication norms discussed above.
Once you are happy with the education plan you have set for your students, you are ready to use the apps of your choice. I must mention that norms do not need to be applied in the same way or with the same focus as each learner and each classroom is different. Perhaps you are teaching students who already have a good foundation in digital citizenship and may be able to use apps that are more public and in a wider social network. As long as the norms have been taken into account and you can ensure student online security, then you are well on your way!
My next project is to create an app checklist incorporating some of these digital citizenship norms. If you have created an app checklist, I’d love to see it.
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