Friday, 6 October 2017

Teach Students to be Good Digital Citizens

The mere introduction of digital technology does not a school better make! Rather, it is a combination of technology and the training of how to use it that makes for a more effective teaching and learning process. The technology standards of any good school will be determined by how effectively it uses technology. Optimisation of technology can be achieved only when the use of technology is complemented by a curriculum on Good Digital Citizenship. In the words of Jill Felty, a Technology Integration Facilitator, Paradise Valley School District, "Good citizenship in person needs to flow over into good citizenship online. It has a lot of the same principles: respect, being kind and meeting expectations." The above quote is taken from an article by Dan Tynan, titled Educators Offer Advice About Teaching Good Digital Citizenship / Ed Tech Magazine. The use of digital technology should also reflect kindness and respect for others.
The use of technology, and in this case, digital technology comes with its own advantages and disadvantages. The use of Digital Technology in everyday classroom transactions in schools has gone up to a great extent, what with students doing research on the internet for their projects, research papers, and term papers. Students in most of the schools have created Whatsapp groups to share homework questions and other important messages. Students and teachers today use Facebook to post polls, surveys, and questionnaires. However, what most policymakers ignore is that students need to be taught to be good Digital Citizens before they are even introduced or encouraged to use this technology.
The ease of access to social networking sites, and the almost omniscient reach of the internet, however, has exposed students and their teachers to certain risks that can only be mitigated through an awareness about the meaning of Good Digital Citizenship, along with an idea of what proper online ethics and etiquettes constitute. Schools all over the country need to develop a curriculum that addresses the issues of Cyberethics, proper online behavior, and ultimately Good Digital Citizenship. Some of the elements of Good Citizenship would, of course, include how to use the hardware in the computer lab, shutting down the system after its use, how to use the keyboard and not to eat or drink water in the computer lab!
But then Good Citizenship goes beyond just how to use the keyboard or even switching off the system after use. It is also about keeping one's privacy safe while working from a shared platform in school, it would also include avoiding posting personal comments on others (which could be defined as being nasty) and of course not visiting restricted sites.Good Citizenship, besides including the aforementioned elements is also about not plagiarising ideas, written content, respecting intellectual property rights and attributing content to its rightful author.
Integrating technology into the learning process in schools is a good idea, but then introducing the concept of Digital Citizenship, Cyberethics, and sound Digital Practices would enhance the learning process even further. Content attribution: teaching students to use the correct format in the bibliography, whether the MLA format or the APA format, teaching students the right way to quote a source, teaching students to summarise a passage, or perhaps even teaching students how to paraphrase another paragraph is just one more trait of good Digital Citizenship.
E-mail etiquettes, use of proper language online, and the observance of the common etiquettes  of day to day social transactions need to be observed even more strictly when one is online!

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