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Digital Citizenship: Today’s Minimum Requirement

Chantell Manahan is a teacher and Tech Mentor at Angola High School. She joined Newmind as a fellow for the HECC 2015 conference.

As an EdTech Fellow with Newmind Group at the Hoosier Educational Computer Consultants (HECC) conference this year, I had the opportunity to attend a session on digital citizenship. As a teacher in a 1:1 Chromebook high school and the sponsor of a student tech team, digital citizenship is a topic teachers and students think they know all about, but asking educators or students to define the term yields mixed results. We often have a hard time pinning down just exactly what we mean when we use the term “digital citizenship.”

Creating a shared vision

As more schools become 1:1 environments and we put tools like cameras, videos, and Google Apps for Education in the hands of students of all ages, it is imperative districts, educators, parents, and students work together to create a shared vision of digital citizenship that everyone understands. And, let’s be honest, even in districts without 1:1 devices, our students are still accessing the internet and engaging with these tools. It is equally important that this vision be revisited and adapted as our technology continues its rapid evolution.

My student tech team, the High Tech Hornets, recently tackled the digital citizenship topic in two ways. First, they prepared a digital citizenship presentation for parents in our district during that they gave during parent-teacher conferences. They felt that with our Chromebooks going home with students each night, parents were an important piece of the digital citizenship puzzle that we were overlooking.

Parents appreciated the initiative of the tech team, and the message was especially powerful coming from the students themselves. Hearing students admit that parents should monitor their (even high school age!) kid’s social media activity even though they might not always like it was well received! Then, in conjunction with national Digital Citizenship Week, the High Tech Hornets sponsored a contest for all the students in our school to create an infographic or a video explaining what digital citizenship meant to them. See our winning video entry here.

Michelle Green, from the Indiana Department of Education’s Office of eLearning, is passionate about digital citizenship and presented these resources for going through the Digital Citizenship certification process through Common Sense Media. Her goal is for as many schools in Indiana as possible to become certified, therefore starting as many of these conversations as possible in our state. With enough of our #inelearn voices being heard, we will push ourselves from simply being digital citizens to being digital leaders.

I’m planning to move my school, and hopefully my district, forward in becoming a Digital Citizenship Certified school. With support from school leaders, parents, and students, I know we can make this a reality soon. We are also fortunate in Indiana to have much support from the state leadership level, especially the Office of eLearning. To follow our progress and to share more digital citizenship ideas, I hope you’ll join our new Google+ community of practice!

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