In an age where we are bombarded technology, it is imperative to teach our students the importance of technology and what technology can do for us. Some people (I used to be one of these) think that we should not use technology in the classroom because students have enough screen time at home, so they need to learn from other sources. After reading Nathan Jurgenson’s article The IRL Fetish and reflecting to what I believed in the past, I fit that category of being a “digital dualist”. Digital dualism is “the habit of viewing the online and offline as largely distinct”. After reflecting on this and through the learnings of ECMP355, I have realized that being online and having students online is not a bad thing, and we must embrace it.
Our culture today embraces technology and part of embracing technology means using it effectively in our classrooms and educating students on how to use technology. Therefore, we must teach our students digital citizenship. According to the Digital Citizenship Using Technology Appropriately website, Digital citizenship is defined as “the norms of appropriate, responsible behavior with regard to technology use”. As someone who is focusing on teaching younger grades, I believe education on cyberbullying and technological literacy starts at a young age. We first must teach students about the appropriate use of technology. Therefore, in my classroom, I will focus on digital etiquette. I must teach students appropriate behavior online and teach students how to recognize inappropriate behavior online. In the classroom, I see this as an “I do, we do, you do” exercise. For example, first, I will begin by creating a class Twitter account, and each day, show the students what I am tweeting and make observations about the kinds of things I am tweeting. Secondly, I will collaborate with the students and they will instruct me what to post. In this stage, I imagine I will have discussions about what is appropriate and what is not appropriate. At this stage, we may have conversations about digital security and digital access. Finally, I will have students create their own Twitter accounts and let them tweet on their own. Throughout this process, digital literacy will be taught. In using Twitter, students may be exposed to new digital platforms and as a class, we may be exposed to new ones.
To some, this may seem like another task to add to an already busy school year. The Government of Saskatchewan has come out with a document, title “Digital Citizenship in Saskatchewan Schools” that all teachers should read to gain information of how digital citizenship fits into the curriculum. I believe that using technology for students to gain knowledge and create products is a way to integrate digital citizenship. I also believe that some aspects need to be explicitly taught and there are many opportunities to fit digital citizenship in the curriculum. For example, in grade two health, an outcome is “Demonstrate a basic understanding of how thoughts, feelings, and actions influence health and well-being”. Part of this could be examining how your online actions affect one’s well-being. According to the Digital Citizenship in Saskatchewan Schools document, grade two students should understand that they must teat others the way they wish to be treated in real life and using technology. During this outcome, we can teach grade two students about the proper way to treat others online and the implications if we do not.
I believe that if we begin to educate our students at a young age about digital citizenship, they will become more informed and be able to make the right decisions when it comes to online behavior. Math in the younger grades is foundational for more complex math. For example, students learn to add at a young age, and this is used throughout life. Similarly, we must give the students the tools they need for digital citizenship and lay the foundation for when they are older.