After completing this weeks’ assignments based on social networking and digital citizenship, I very happy to say I learned quite a lot that I will be able to carry over into my teachings. Hopefully, my students will be able to benefit because of this as well. The biggest thing I became aware of was that there are many social networking sites that I can use along with my students that need little if any modification in order to be effective and safe for instruction. There is much more than just Facebook and Twitter! Speaking from a digital citizenship standpoint, I learned that we as teachers can not just simply expect that our students are knowledgeable and prepared to jump right into cyber space without preparation and education on what they will use and encounter.
I have been hesitant to use many social networking sites in my classes simply due to the fact that I do not trust that my students will be protected from material that they are not supposed to see. For example, Facebook has many privacy settings that a novice user (or younger user) might not know how to change in order to be protected. Twitter has very few barriers between the younger populations and virtually any malicious, inappropriate post in the world. Because of this unit, I have found such sites as Nulu languages and epals, which are excellent sites that do fantastic jobs of keeping classes separate and hidden from the outside world.
The other thing I learned has to do with helping our young learners become well rounded digital citizens. As a high school teacher, I naturally assume that the students who walk into my class already have a fairly good background in using computers and most forms of digital media. But, as the saying goes, we all know what happens when we assume. I now know that we as educators need to provide students with clarification and support when it comes to everything from how high to position their seats in front of the computer to how to avoid phishing scams and unwittingly downloading viruses.
I definitely think it will be a good idea for me to print out my digital citizenship policy and make it visible in my classroom, or at the very least include it in my syllabi at the beginning of the school year. This way, students and their parents will both be aware of what I expect of them and what to expect of me when we use digital technology.