Sunday, November 3, 2013

Digital Citizenship Parents and Teachers

This should be my ECOO reflection, but it's not.  I may still have that reflection coming though, and honestly much of this post comes from my favorite time in any conference: the discussions that happen in between talks.

Over the last week I have been thinking a bit about digital citizenship.  Earlier I jumped in a conversation Andrew Campbell was having about it.  My Twitter exp. is low and don't know yet how to say everything I want or mean in 140 characters or less -something anyone can see if the look at how long my blog posts are.

I think he is right.  We really do need to educate many parents on digital citizenship.  It was one think to let  children be raised by televisions, it is quite another to have them raised by computers and smart phones. (Not that I agree with child rearing by tv either).  There are a lot of parents who need to learn more about how they can support their children as they access the Internet at home.  Because even though they may have heard they their kids are 'digital natives,' they may not understand that the title does not mean that the have a a deep understanding of the space they move through.

However, I also believe there needs be a common language and understanding established about digital citizenship in the schools too.  There are a lot of educators with a vast depth and breadth of IT knowledge teaching about digital citizenship, and who are doing a lot to prepare our students for life in the cloud.  But right now I feel that knowledge is more of a niche thing than a common practice.  There are many educators who don't address digital literacy for many reasons, including; lack of interest, lack of professional development, the teacher librarian/computer teacher will do it.  All this and/or they don't feel they have the tech resources to get to the place where they are comfortable professionally to be able to incorporate it into their classes.  How are they expected to teach digital citizenship in a way that allows them to have students practice skills taught when access to technology is limited?

Special mention: The TDSB Teaching and Learning ICT department has developed a great resource, the ICT Standards, that addresses digital skills and gives examples of how to easily connect them to the curriculum.  They have also complied a database of teacher created lessons that connect with the ICT standards that other teachers can use in their class.   Every year teachers volunteer to be on TACIT and create detailed lesson plans from actual lessons they have used with their classes and share them with the TDSB.  It is a great resource for teachers learning about integrating ICT in their classroom and Learning about digital citizenship.

Back to parents; it is dangerous to think that teachers are the only holders of knowledge about digital citizenship.  There is an untapped market of parents who know a lot more than we give them credit for.  Adults who work in IT fields for example.  I know of one parent who has made a Minecraft server for his daughters.  He and his wife (who are also big MMO gamers) actively monitor and instruct their children on appropriate use and behavior of digital technology.  If their school were to host teacher-parent discussion (fireside chat) about digital literacy and citizenship they would be a wonderful resource for sharing what parents can do at home to make sure their children are safe and responsible.  I think we need to give parents a voice in this discussion.  We need to have an open dialog where we can learn from each other and construct solutions and strategies for supporting our students.  This kind of partnership would not only support our students but also strengthen our relationship with the parent community as a whole.

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