Digital Citizenship…Final thoughts

My digital citizenship mantra is Digital Citizenship:  Courtesy for the 21st century.

The last five weeks of “Digital Citizenship” have flown by.  There is so much information out there about this topic.  It is an ever evolving topic, so it can be quite challenging to keep up with the flow of information.  I learned so much about digital citizenship.  First off, I did not realize all the different topics that fall under the umbrella of this topic.  Of course I knew of cyberbullying, and had some familiarity with privacy and safety.  I did not think for a second about digital access falling under the topic of digital citizenship.  We have to remember that all our students may not have equal access to technology, and we have to be prepared to level the playing field as much as we can.  I did not realize the scope of digital law, including copyright, fair use, and public domain.  Until I interacted with the ideas in a scenario, I really did not understand them very well.

My biggest accomplishment in this course was my ability to realize that there is no way that one person can possibly absorb every bit of information that is out there about digital citizenship.  By really interacting and learning about the nine elements of digital citizenship, I feel like I have a really good grasp on the basic concepts involved.  Now I have the base to build upon.  Just as navigating the vast amount of information was a big accomplishment, it has also been my biggest problem.  I feel like when looking at online materials about the subject, I am in a virtual pinball machine, where I can bounce from one site to the next until I can’t even remember where I started.  The challenge for me is to keep myself focused on one subject at a time.

I have really enjoyed the weekly assignments, especially including the ones that have scenarios.  I think I have a good grasp on how to research and find out what information is relevant to what I am trying to learn.  I feel like these assignments really made me focus on the individual topics in a way that made the information “stick”.  I found that I am pretty good at taking apart a situation into its individual parts and then figuring out all the relevant information.

This course has really made an impact on what I am going to be doing in my classroom this year and going forward.  I have always been a teacher that talks about various subjects when teaching, but now I am challenging myself to expose my kindergarteners to appropriately leveled examples of digital citizenship.  I realize that they are never too young to start hearing about the concepts involved.  I would also like to get some information out to my parents about these concepts, to help them begin to build a base level of knowledge that will help them navigate their child’s digital future.  This course has also strengthened my base of knowledge about the concepts, which will help me become a better leader.  I already conduct my “Appy Hour” workshops, but now I can zero in and try to have some more digital citizenship examples for the teachers on my campus.  By arming them with this knowledge, they can begin to be more aware of what they are telling their students in the “daily” conversations that we have in our classrooms.

The most meaningful information that I encountered in this course has to be the information about cyberbullying.  I think being a mom of a teen and a preteen, this information is the most “real world” for me with my own children.  My son was bullied in middle school, to the point where we had to pull him out for a few years.  So, I have always been very aware of problems that my children might be having with others.  When you add the digital element, the possibilities of this happening are endless.  I would really like to start a club at my elementary school that discusses cyberbullying and what we can do about it as a school.  By arming the children before they leave for middle school, hopefully we can equip them with the information that they need to navigate the rough waters of adolescence.

My suggestion for future students of this course is read all the material.  The instructors give a wide variety of information on each subject so reading through all of it is very beneficial.  If I could change one activity for the course, I am pretty sure it would be the formal paper from the last week of the course.  Not because it is not a useful sign of what I have learned, but I just really don’t enjoy the more formal writing activities.  I really enjoy more of the blogging, informal kind of writing.  I am sure because that is more what I enjoy to read as an educator out in the trenches.  Making the information more friendly for a busy teacher has always been more a goal for me.

Speaking about this course to other students and to the teachers I know, I really feel like there should be more staff development on the topics that we discussed in this class.  I know, for example, that my district requires gang awareness training.  I would like to see more training about cyberbullying and how to help with that.  This class has opened my eyes to so many potential problems in the digital citizenship world, and some of them are relatively easy fixes.  If more people took a course similar to this, some of the issues would become much easier to address and potentially eliminate.  I hope you have enjoyed the last five weeks of digital citizenship.  I know I have!


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