August 06, 2014

Digital Responsibility: It’s Not Just for Kids

A couple of weeks ago, I had the joy of attending the #C4 conference held at Carmel Clay Schools, Indiana. Teachers across Indiana amassed to enhance their technology integration skills and learn about digital citizenship. Marty Park, the Chief Digital Officer of the Kentucky Department of Education, educated attendees on how to integrate the Digital Drivers License into their curriculum.

Unfamiliar with digital citizenship? Basically, it teaches students about digital responsibility, like cyberbullying; awareness of online scams and phishing; differentiating credible sources for research; and knowledge of the digital footprint you leave whenever you post anything on the web. (Marty creatively prefers digital tattoo over digital footprint, as it also denotes the permanent nature of anything posted to the Internet. Great concept!) Whether a student resides in Australia or Canada, France or Pawtucket, they probably are studying digital citizenship. (America’s CIPA laws even mandate digital citizenship training in K12 schools.)

Marty is the Father of the Digital Driver’s License, a FREE resource used by almost a thousand institutions to help educate—and reinforce—the principles of digital citizenship.

Digital Driver’s License: Think about it. After all, no state in their right mind would let somebody drive on their roads without earning a government-issued driver’s license. Why grant students permission to use their devices on the district’s network without first passing digital citizenship materials? It not only teaches the rules of the digital road, and responsibility on the Internet, but bestows instructional disciplinary measures to the district if those responsibilities are broken. Did Joe or Susie break their Acceptable Use Policy? If so, just reduce their online rights (bandwidth or additional resources) for a week, as a disciplinary action. This instructionally helps reinforce the fact that the network is an institutional asset — a privilege — that carries responsibilities. It’s not a student’s right that can be recklessly toyed with.

I’ve been assisting a district integrate the Digital Driver’s License (DDL) to help usher in their new age of BYOD: Students who have passed the DDL are granted enhanced access and greater bandwidth. It’s a superb way to facilitate those eager teachers wishing to integrate Khan Academy or flipped learning into their science curriculum, for example.

Think Digital Citizenship is only for K12? Think again.

Dr. Diane Coursol and Dr. Jacqueline Lewis are cofounders of cybersupervision, and are recognized international experts in counselor education and supervision. [Translation: Counseling, psychology.] In fact, they teach mental health counseling and student affairs at Minnesota State University, Mankato, in Mankato, Minnesota. Digital citizenship is dear to their hearts, as I found out when I assisted Dr. Coursol in teaching a Master’s class, “Technology in Counseling and Student Affairs” last spring.  Dr. Coursol commented, “We have General Education requirements in college. I think Digital Citizenship should be a requirement that all of our students go through. Students and adults – parents and professionals—do not know the rules of the digital highway. As a result, it can put them in positions that have significant ramifications for their life, their future and their career.” This presents problems in college for IT departments. “We are in a war. The IT department has regulations to consider, but the students aren’t well prepared.” Dr. Lewis added, “Good digital citizenship is good for democracy. If you have good digital citizens, they can participate better in the democratic process.”

Well said. And, to paraphrase the TV ad, “What is in YOUR digital footprint?”

About The Contributor:
Jean MickelsonEducation Specialist

For 17+ years, Jean Mickelson has worked with K20 education throughout the Midwest and Canada. She has worked with districts to transform classrooms into digital learning environments, focusing on aspects such as digital citizenship, Common Core standards, security, and network management. She has helped establish one-to-one programs and the various flavors BYODs. Before joining Extreme, Jean was an EDU specialist with Apple and Google Apps, assisting both iPad and Chromebook deployments.

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