Digital Citizenship is a major topic in the St. Anne’s Technology curriculum. The overall goal of this part of the curriculum is to educate the students about the basics of going online and to help them to become safe, responsible, and respectful digital citizens.
Digital media and technology are evolving at a dizzying pace, bringing with them extraordinary opportunities as well as real risks for our students. On the positive side, students are using the immense power of the Internet and mobile technology to explore, learn, connect, and create in ways never before imagined. On the negative side, harmful behaviors aided by digital technology, from cyberbullying to copying online materials without citations, are surfacing in schools and in homes across the country.
At St. Anne’s the students learn about their connections to others through the Internet and to think critically about how they treat others given this great responsibility. The topics the students are introduced to are:
Digital Life: Students in grades 1-4 learn that the Internet is like a neighborhood. They reflect on their responsibilities to this community and to the community members, both online and offline. They also learn the importance of being a good digital citizen and how to be safe on the Internet. We discuss always asking for permission before using a computer or going on the Internet, only talking or sending messages to people they know, and only going to websites that are appropriate for kids their age.
Students in grades 5-8 learn the importance of having a positive digital footprint, how to find a balance between technology and unplugged time, and how to maintain appropriate boundaries so devices do not impact sleep or relationships.
Connected Culture: Students in grades 5-8 discuss what happens when children gang up on one another online and what to do if they experience cyberbullying. Group messaging is covered in grades 6-8.
Digital Communication: Students in grades 5-8 learn how to communicate effectively using online tools by thinking before they post (considering permanence, unintended audience, and replicability). MS students in grades 6-8 use social media apps like Edmodo to let students use social networks in their classes and learn by doing. They also discuss the right medium to communicate/resolve conflicts and what kinds of conversations are better had in person than via text or social media.
Digital Etiquette: Students in grades 6-8 discuss the concept of oversharing and what kinds of posts are considered too personal, bragging, or trolling (making a deliberately offensive or provocative online posting with the aim of upsetting someone or eliciting an angry response from them).
Respecting Creative Work: Students in grades 3-8 learn about the basic concepts of copyright and how to create online citations. The issue of plagiarism is framed as a matter of respect.
The curriculum emphasizes a balanced approach and celebrates the positive aspects of digital life while teaching students to avoid its potential threats. The Digital Citizenship curriculum is rooted in a model of ethical thinking that starts with the self and moves outward to encompass the entire community. Through hands-on activities, role-playing, and classroom discussion, the students are asked to reflect on how their digital and online behaviors affect themselves, their friends and family, and the communities of which they are a part.