- BC Games
Creating digital citizens
Each year, going back to school means going back to something a little different. The classrooms and hallways are still the same but increasingly, teachers, students and parents are teaching, learning and socializing online — and that is opening new spaces for students to navigate.
A full 95 per cent of high school students are now online, according to a study by Pew Internet and of those, three quarters are mobile internet users. It’s been that way for several years now. And that has fooled us into thinking our children are the so-called digital natives, but they are not.
Children are very good at figuring out how to make a device, an app or a platform like Facebook work, but not so good at figuring out what to do with them, at least not in school.
So, just as they needed to be guided towards putting paper and pencil to good use, students need to be guided towards the same with digital tools and digital spaces. That means parents and teachers alike need to be actively preparing students work safely, responsibly and effectively online.
What does that look like? The best schools are developing programs for digital literacy and digital citizenship. And they’re doing this collaboratively with all stakeholders — students, teachers and parents.
The web blurs the boundaries between school and home so we need to engage the whole school community in building policy and practice.
Here are the questions a school community needs to be asking itself:
— Where do these conversations take place, and when and with whom? We need to feel that our conversations are worthwhile and that our decisions will be acted upon;
— How do we plan to develop the two digital literacies — controlling our attention in the face of ever-growing distraction and how to search for and qualify information;
— How do we plan to develop digital citizenship? This involves participating responsibly in online spaces while being aware of the impact of our digital footprints; learning how to collaborate online to achieve more than we can alone; understanding networks, how we shape them and how they shape our behaviour;
— What policies and practices do we have in place or need to build so that our children at whatever age can work safely online while still taking advantage of all the web has to offer?
Brad Ovenell-Carter is director of educational technology at Mulgrave School in West Vancouver.