My entry into digital citizenship started in elementary school, in which I can vividly remember taking a class on how to use the internet. I could hardly wait the 15 minutes it took for the computer to connect to the web so I could proceed with conducting very crucial “research”.
Later, when my family finally agreed to invest in a computer, my parents could barely pry me away from talking with friends on MSN and making horribly embarrassing Myspace pages. Like so many people in my generation, almost overnight, I had an outlet that I was never privy to before.
Suddenly, I had access to endless information without ever having to leave the comfort of my living room and a hundred different platforms to shout from; it felt pretty damn powerful. The digital world is a powerful thing, and in the words of the very wise (and fictional) Ben Parker, with great power comes great responsibility.
With the amount of technology most of us use each and every day, it’s easy to take for granted the sheer awesomeness of the world wide web. It’s just as easy to forget that being a part of that giant-all-connecting web requires a specialized code of conduct— a bunch of norms and behaviours that we call “Digital Citizenship”.
Nine aspects of digital citizenship
As professors, being a good Digital Citizen becomes particularly important as we become further reliant upon technology in the classroom and continue to lecture to students who are totally immersed in the digital world. So what makes an upstanding digital citizen? The general consensus reveals that there are nine components to digital citizenship.
- Digital Access: Being mindful of our own privilege and ensuring that no-one is denied digital access.
- Digital Commerce: Understanding that there is a huge digital economic market and learning how to be effective consumers in that economy.
- Digital Communication: The ability to communicate electronically with anyone, anywhere and making appropriate decisions when communicating with other digital citizens.
- Digital Literacy: The process of teaching and learning about technology and the use of technology
- Digital Etiquette: Conducting ourselves appropriately online and teaching others about being responsible digital citizens.
- Digital Law: Being held accountable for our actions and activities online.
- Digital Rights & Responsibilities: Exercising the rights and freedoms given to every digital citizen and doing so responsibly.
- Digital Health and Wellness: Being aware of the inherent dangers of technology and the internet in particular, and protecting oneself from those dangers.
- Digital Security: Protecting and guarding our personal information from sources that may cause harm.
And while all of the 9 components of digital citizenship are equally important, there are some that I believe are especially pertinent to professors.
When incorporating technology in the classroom, understanding and being aware of Digital Access, Literacy, Etiquette, and Rights & Responsibilities can both save you a lot of grief and help your students become upstanding digital citizens.
Digital access—be aware of privilege
From time to time, we all need to check our privilege and understand that many people don’t have the same advantages that we do. This would include regular access to the digital world.
With tuition rates soaring and a myriad of other factors that I won’t get into here— it’s important to remember that not every student is going to have a laptop or access to the internet outside of the school. As I mentioned before, the net is a pretty awesome thing with the power to connect us all, but it can also be extremely isolating if you’re not able to take part in it.
If you plan on incorporating a lot of digital education into your lesson plan, you may want to book a weekly computer lab for your class that your students can use at their own discretion, or, simply remind them of them of the digital resources available at the university/college library.
Call me old fashioned, but college and university libraries are wonderful places and it just so happens that almost all of them offer digital learning commons, seminars, computers for student use and laptops that are available to sign-out.
By encouraging students to access your school’s digital resources, you are providing students with the means they need to participate in the digital world.
Digital Literacy—Be an edtech hipster
Staying current on edtech trends, is beneficial to both you and your students. Part of good digital literacy is researching and learning new ways to use technology and putting them into action.
For educators and students alike, technology can be an amazing teaching and learning tool. With things like a #Edtech trending on twitter, staying up-to-date on edtech trends and incorporating them into your classroom doesn’t have to be a headache or a lot of extra work.
Including edtech in your lesson plan can fuel student collaboration, further your own organization, increase student participation, and help your students get a handle on what it means to be a digital citizen. If you want to learn more about how to incorporate edtech into your classroom, this article offers a great umbrella list of easy edtech to boost classroom success.
Digital etiquette—professors beware! Use social media appropriately
In the digital age, we have to be especially conscious of our own digital etiquette and presence. What we post is usually much more public than we think, so if you’re a Facebook or Twitter enthusiast, please know that your student’s will google you and probably find you on whatever platform you use—so consider what this means and the ramifications of such discovery!
With that said, having your students follow you on Twitter is an excellent way of incorporating technology into the classroom, if your tweets are strictly related to the course and field of study.
Digital rights & responsibilities—Focus on academic integrity in digital learning
While every digital citizen has the freedom to share information, ripping off someone’s work is never okay and as we are all aware, plagiarism is an ongoing issue in higher education.
Teaching our students to cite their resources and give credit where credit is due, is an important part of responsible digital citizenship. Practicing digital and academic integrity will not only prepare your students for their professional lives but it will also reduce the spread of falsified information, which is something that benefits everyone.
Small scale literature reviews and blogging assignments where students must cite their sources are two easy ways to execute a lesson in referencing. As much as it doesn’t seem necessary at times, teaching our students about academic integrity is relevant at any level of education.
In a society where we are constantly tied to our phones, laptops, tablets, and whatever device we use to connect to the internet, our digital citizenship is just as much a part of our person as how we conduct ourselves in the physical world.
There’s no surprise that technology continues to make its way into the classroom. Outside of the classroom, we must be conscious of how we conduct ourselves online, as it can either come back to haunt us or take our amazing professor status to a whole-other-level.
Inside the classroom, incorporating digital citizenship into our lesson plans can help prepare our students for a long life on the world wide web.
Top Hat is designed to connect professors and students in the classroom and to facilitate an active and engaged learning environment. If you’re interested in a demonstration of how Top Hat can be used in your classroom, click the button below.