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What Is Digital Citizenship? Why Is It Important?

Jacob Goren, Technology Integrator

This article is the first in a series on the importance of digital citizenship. Read  articles on digital citizenship in 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th grades.

Our world is changing. It’s changing faster than we know and often faster than any of us want to believe. I’ve even heard people say 65%, or even 85%, of the jobs that will exist in 2030 haven’t been invented yet.

As educators, these changes pose a real problem for us. Our job, when boiled down to a single sentence, is to teach children how to be productive, positive and impactful adults. Teaching young children means helping them navigate both academic and social-emotional arenas, and it is and always has been a lofty goal. But that figure above further complicates a teacher’s job. Without knowing the world their future-adults will live in, how can teachers possibly prepare their students to live meaningful and productive lives when they get older?

Enter digital citizenship. For the past century, students have been taught how to be responsible members of their communities and countries, from learning about history and government and civic duties, to the arguably more important need for respect and communication and service. But there’s a secondary community that all of our students are simultaneously growing up in, and it is one we don’t ever see or hear. That is the digital world.

A 1st grade digital citizenship pledge

Our digital citizenship pledge for 1st grade

As technology becomes an ever-growing presence in all of our lives, the need to educate students how to be responsible citizens of that digital world has become clear. Organizations like Common Sense Media, the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), and Google have recently identified the need for this type of education and have released their own curricula and guidelines, termed “digital citizenship.”

At Avenues, we agree that this kind of work is important. For our students to be leaders in the 21st century, they will need to know how to exist in a digital world. This does not only mean giving them the tools to create or use technology, but it also means educating them on the rules for existing in that digital world. In that vein, the technology integration office worked this summer to update our creative computation curriculum for the Lower Division, adding “Digital Citizenship” as our code word of September. During this month, students in 1st through 5th grade engaged in a variety of lessons and activities that helped them identify their place in the digital world and their roles and responsibilities as digital citizens. After each lesson, students earned a “Digital Citizenship” badge, and only after earning all four badges was a student allowed to use technology as a trusted “Avenues Digital Citizen.”

Over the next few articles, the technology integration team will outline exactly what the goals of these lessons were, one grade at a time, as we begin our quest to ensure our students are prepared for the jobs that none of us can imagine quite yet.

This student has received all four badges and is now an Avenues Digital Citizen!

This student has received all four badges and is now an Avenues Digital Citizen!

 

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