This morning as I have been getting back into the blogging groove I have started to think about the digital footprints my students are creating as they grow up. The artifacts that they are creating now will be there forever. As such it is important as ever to educate students about digital citizenship and the footprints they are leaving.
I have made it a conscious effort to have open and honest discussions with my students about digital footprints and connectivity since the start of the year. In fact one of the first conversations we had about our digital footprints in my classroom centered around Facebook and the importance of privacy settings. It takes a few deep breaths and a lot of courage to start the conversation bu in the end it is well worth it. I asked my students what they knew about privacy settings and what we should and shouldn’t share on the internet. It was a bit of an eye-opening experience for me and my students alike. I was very pleased that although they were only starting grade 4 many had clearly already had the same discussions with their parents and knew the protocols associated with sharing and digital etiquette. Some however clearly had not had these conversations and told me the next day that they had checked their settings and closed up their accounts.
It’s no secret I love using tech in my classroom to help deepen my students learning and I have had them create accounts to enable them to use various tools in our classroom. Because I teach grade 4 the accounts I have had my students sign up for are accounts that are connected to a central classroom account and are easily monitored by me. E.g. Kidblog and Edmodo. This gives a cushion for mistakes and learning to occur in a safe space and when needed important conversations can be held with students. My somewhat conservative approach to sharing in my classroom fits in with my comfort level as a new teacher and perhaps will change as I gain teaching experience.
In my classroom the rules around account creation and sharing are pretty simple:
- Usernames consist of first name plus a number.
- Pseudonyms are okay as long as everyone in the class knows who it is.
- We don’t give out personal information. E.g. First and last names, location.
- We don’t post pictures of our faces despite having all our media releases signed. (This also goes for sharing pictures of students on my blog and Twitter account, I don’t post them)
- We use appropriate language and tone when speaking to communicating on the internet.
- I have scaffolded the use of Twitter in my classroom so students are able to Tweet once we have reviewed what they are sending out. The account is locked and we only follow other classrooms.
Although I know it is just is a start, it is my belief that if I empower my students with knowledge and the tools to navigate and share on the internet safely they will be proud of the footprints they leave and hopefully be able to avoid some long-lasting mistakes.
Next up I am going to tackle proper attribution and creative commons with my students. Any ideas or suggestions are most welcome!
BrainPop Internet Safety Video:
Common Sense Media: Digital Citizen Poster