I spent all last week working with educators in Western North Carolina on the Digital Learning Competencies (DLCs). As a DLC Ambassador, I am charged with delivering multiple workshops that engage educators in professional learning related to the DLCs. One of the DLCs for both teachers and administrators involved Digital Citizenship (DigCit). DigCit is an area that I am very passionate about. As a previous technology facilitator, I worked within an extraordinary middle school where we provided DigCit training for students. But I did it completely wrong. Not necessarily wrong, but I was not as effective as I could have been. I worked with an awesome team composed of the school's instructional coach and media coordinator. We taught 3-4 lessons during the course of the year to all grade levels. During the lessons, our students responded positively and seemed to understand some of our main points. However, too often, students seemed to falter from these lessons that we thought that they had learned. It became obvious at several times as administrators had to intervened in several issues related to parent concerns or social media. As I reflect on this, I realize that we are not as effective at teaching DigCit since we were not actively involving teachers. As a technology facilitator, I do not see students on a regular basis; teachers do. Since teachers have regular interactions with students on a daily basis, they are the ones in the best position to regular remind and reinforce many of the DigCit lessons and preferred practices. Thus for an effective DigCit training experience, classroom teachers must actively be involved. It is a lot like parenting. I can tell my son not to do something and he indicates that he understands. But too often, he falters and does what he is not supposed to do. He is six years old. As a parent, I fully understand that somethings are a process and not a "one and done." DigCit is like this for our students. We have to constantly and consistently reinforce effective DigCit practice with our students and help them when the falter. We have to push gently sometimes so we do not damage our relationship with students and our ability to influence them. At other times, we need to be frank and direct in helping our students understand the impacts of their actions in digital world as well as teaching them how to be responsible and good digital citizens.
As I worked with educators this week, I expected to have a number of media coordinators (they really understand why DigCit matters). But I also had a good number of counselors and administrators attend which was awesome. I even managed to have several classroom teachers attend which was even more extraordinary. In each session, I asked participants to share their reason for attending. This allowed me to personalize the sessions to meet their needs. I found that participants recognize that DigCit matters and many shared stories of where students not understanding the implications of their actions online resulted in disruption to the learning process. As we continue life in the digital age, we must see DigCit as a necessary life skill just like financial literacy. We cannot fail to educate our students and staff in the importance of effective DigCit practices.
As I move into my final week as a DLC ambassador, I am recommitted to providing more resources and information for educators on DigCit. We must also help educators learn how to integrate DigCit into their classroom. I clearly heard from participants that many classroom teachers see the importance of DigCit but are uncertain how to best do this with students. As a result, those who support teachers must help in provided training and resources to support classroom teachers. One amazing resource that I have recommended multiple times is Dr. Kristen Mattson's book "Digital Citizenship in Action: Empowering Students to Engage in Online Communities."
The ideas shared here are my own and do not necessarily represent my employers, associations, or organizations. These thoughts are entirely my own.