More Than Compliments: Teaching Students to Engage Respectfully Online
As our classrooms transition to more technologically rich environments, students 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.
We already hold our students accountable for what they say in the physical world, but what about the digital one? 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?
Here are 3 ways you can work this lesson of effective communications in online spaces into your curriculum:
- Critical Thinking Exercises
Assign a passage for students to read, and a prompt for them to reply to in Google Docs. Once they’ve done this, you can have them reply to two or three of their classmates’ answers using the comments feature in Google Docs, or walk around the classroom and comment using sticky notes. Because 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.
Blogs are an easy way for students to express themselves in an online space. Students can use this space as a substitute for a 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. If you’re not ready for your students to dive into blogging online, you can try out paper blogs and have students reply to the paper blogs with sticky note comments.
- 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.
These examples are just the beginning. Have you breached this topic in your classroom? How did you teach your students about effectively communicating in online spaces?