Social Networking and Digital Citizenship

I guess I was a bit naïve when it came to thinking about social networking.  I thought it was only sites like Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter for purely social or commercial reasons.  Boy, was I wrong!  No matter what your interest, there is a social network out there for you, all around the World Wide Web.  Maybe part of my naivety had to do with the fact that as an elementary school classroom teacher, social networking isn’t a part of classroom instruction or conversations since children under the age of 13 are not technically allowed to have social networking accounts. 

I was pleasantly surprised to read an article in ISTE’s Learning and Leading with Technology, December/January 2011-2012 titled, “Promote Digital Citizenship through School-Based Social Networking.”  In the article the author, a tech specialist at a K-12 Christian based school, describes the process that they went through to build a secure, internal social networking site within the school.  By using the site, the students and faculty are able to put theory into practice by exercising all the components of digital citizenship. 

I would like nothing more than to bring this practice into our district and schools.  I am concerned that this would meet with quite a bit of resistance due in part to preconceived notions that social networking is off limits for young children.  In the school that I worked at previously did use Google internally with some success.   Students were able to send and receive e-mails with other students and staff.   We were also able to collaborate on documents.  This worked very well because we were a small charter school.  I have to wonder how this would look on a district level and I would be very interested to see it in action. 

I found it very interesting and valuable to research and create a Digital Citizenship policy and then create a lesson to teach the policy.  I found two great resources for planning lessons, http://www.commonsensemedia.org/ and http://cybersmartcurriculum.org/digitalcitizenship/.  As an elementary teacher, I found it more beneficial and realistic to focus on one component rather than all of them in one lesson. I plan to incorporate this into an entire unit centered on digital citizenship.  I will share my findings with our current technology specialist and encourage her to share this with the rest of the school.  Creating just this one lesson inspired me to create more to give my students a well-rounded exposure to what it means to be a digital citizen and the increased responsibilities it entails. 

 

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