Digital Citizenship in the Connected Classroom
So, you’ve made the decision to connect your students to the world by creating a connected classroom. Congratulations!
Once you’re ready to get started creating your connected classroom, you may be thinking of the importance of digital citizenship and how it will apply to your classroom. Your students will have the opportunity to connect not only with classmates but people around the world. As connections span across different countries, cultures, and languages, students need to learn the skills to be effective digital communicators.
How does citizenship apply to the digital world? We already hold our students accountable for what they say in the physical world, but what about the digital one? Just like in-person interactions, interactions in digital spaces have consequences. With the wide variety of online forums and social media, students now need to learn how to be held accountable in both.
So, how can you empower your students to own what they say and be accountable online, just like they are in the physical world?
Three ways to work the lesson of digital citizenship through effective communications in digital spaces into your curriculum:
Blogs are an easy way for students to express themselves in a digital space. Students can use this space as a substitute for the traditional paper journal. For a successful blogging experience, it’s important to first set ground rules about appropriate topics, and how you’d like your students to use the blog. Check out these student blogging guidelines and commenting guidelines to develop some blogging guidelines for your students. Once you’ve discussed expectations, students can write, then respond to their classmates’ blogs, further developing the skill of communicating in digital spaces.
Digital Pen Pals
You can match your classroom with another across the country or world for your students to communicate with. Using prompts to begin the first communication between students in your classroom and the matched classroom, students can use this opportunity to learn about how differences in the classroom, culture, languages, and more of their new pen pal. Your students will learn how to effectively communicate with another person online, no matter where they are located. You can find other classrooms to connect with through ePals or through Skype.
Critical Thinking Exercises
A great way to build effective communication in digital spaces is a critical thinking exercise. You can assign a passage for students to read, and have them reply to a prompt in Google Docs. Once your students have completed this, they can then reply to two or three of their classmates’ answers using the comments feature in Google Docs. Since students can interpret what they’ve read differently, this can start a dialogue or debate, which will require them to think critically about how to approach their comments. And, since your students know each other, it is a great way to begin the conversation about how communicating online has similar consequences to communicating in person, as negative comments made online have the same effect as if they’re made in person.