The students of today are the digital citizens of tomorrow. In fact, they are likely digital citizens right now – as are educators, parents, teachers, and peers. But what does this mean? And how can we use this to help shape schools and success?
Technically speaking, digital citizens are people who have the knowledge and skills needed to use digital technologies to communicate with others efficiently, collaborate socially, and consume content with digital devices. They are digitally literate and understand internet safety, privacy, security, copyrights, digital footprints, and online etiquette. The Australian government’s definition of a digital citizenship is “an acceptance and upholding of the normal of appropriate, responsible behaviour concerning the use of digital technologies.” This includes not misusing technology to disadvantage others and understanding the ethics related to law, and the permanence of data.
Digital citizenship is something that we should be educating students about, and it isn’t a one-off lesson or program that can be delivered at an assembly. Teaching students about how to engage with digital technologies appropriately are fundamental to modern curriculums, subjects, and classrooms. Schools need to be integrating digital citizenship, and school leaders, faculty, staff, and parents should be on board with the practice – making it a priority and understanding it as a cornerstone for growth and success both now and beyond graduation. Students need to be informed and capable of making responsible choices; including the use of technologies in their personal lives, academically, and professionally. This is becoming a growing priority as access to digital technologies grow; many students already have their own devices, and many schools are providing them in the classroom to assist with learning.
One of the most critical considerations schools must do when it comes to teaching digital citizenship is to teach is as an empowering skill, not just as a requirement of our world beyond 2020. Three characteristics can define this:
- Digital literacy: educating students to be literate with technology
- Digital etiquette: helping students understanding appropriate online behaviour, including safety and the permanence of online data
- Digital rights: including copyright laws, cybersecurity, and commerce
These characteristics can be shaped and promoted by staff and faculty discussion, with teachers examining how they can create natural connections to improve digital citizenship across schools. Schools can embrace contextualised learning to ensure that digital citizenship extends beyond schools and is embedded in student behaviour long-term, not just in the classroom. The challenge is ensuring that the teaching is relevant for students, and having them understand not only the content and context – but also the importance of their learning moving forward.
If you are unsure about what digital citizenship means, or how to implement it appropriately in your school – contact MOQdigital. Our team of experienced Education consultants can help you make the most out of your digital investments and ensure that your students are prepared for the world beyond 2020.