Why Digital Citizenship Matters?

According to TeenSafe, in 2016, 87% of today’s youth have witnessed cyberbullying while 34% personally experienced cyberbullying. Among the surveyed students, 15% have admitted to cyberbullying others, while 24% said they did not know what to do if they would be harassed online. Most commonly reported types of cyberbullying includes spreading rumours and experiencing hurtful comments based on physical looks, race, religion, and sexuality in social media platforms. Negative impact on the victim, such as low self-esteem, development of self-harming behaviours, and suicidal thoughts, follows the experience of cyberbullying.

 

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#DigCit – Why it Matters?

Cyberbullying is just one of the many unfortunate and unnecessary ill-effects of the proliferation of technology tools. Some sees tech tools, such the iPad, Internet, mobile phones, and social media platforms, as the source of these problems and so, reactively remove or ban them in school or classroom premises. While there might be valid reasons behind these courses of actions, empowering students, parents, teachers, and everyone in the school community with the necessary digital skills is the more proactive and essential answer to these unending issues and challenges. This is why digital citizenship matters!

What’s Digital Citizenship?

In simple terms, digital citizenship is the norms of appropriate and responsible use of technology. In school setting, digital citizenship covers concepts and skills that teachers, technology leaders, school administrators, and parents should teach and develop in students or technology users for them to use technology tools appropriately. Digital citizenship covers areas such digital security, literacy, rights, use, and digital-emotional intelligence among others.

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The importance of digital citizenship makes it a necessary area to be included in a school or district’s technology program framework. It is not enough to focus on ensuring that the physical infrastructure is ready or that the whole school or district is wired or has purchased the necessary devices. It is not enough to train teachers or staff about the pedagogical and technical aspect of teaching with tech in the classroom. Teachers should also be armed with the skill to direct students to use technology properly. Digital citizenship is not external to the student’s experience in a technology-rich learning environment. It is an integral part of it.

How to Promote Digital Citizenship?

  1. Digital citizenship should be embedded in every tech-integrated lesson or learning activity. For example, when students are taught to research or gather information about a certain topic from the Internet, they should know how to properly search for information, credit authors properly, or even to critically evaluate their sources. When students are taught to collaborate online, they must know the proper way or the accepted and expected behaviour in sharing, listening, accepting or disagreeing with the opinions of other people. When students are taught to share their learnings to the public audience via the Internet, then they must also know how to protect the private aspect of their lives.
  2. Involve parents in the digital citizenship program of the school. After school, students spend the rest of their time at home. Sometimes, they are even left alone with their mobile devices. During these unguarded moments, any form of cyber attack or cyber danger can pop out in front of the learner. Involving parents and discussing with them the importance of and the different ways to promote digital citizenship even at home can support the school’s program. The partnership between schools and parents solidifies and reinforces the program in all aspects.
  3. Design meaningful and effective digital citizenship program that caters to the student’s context/ needs and is a product of school community collaboration. There are numerous online resources which can help teachers or schools draft their own digital citizenship program. Sites such as Common Sense Media and Google for Education have excellent resources for embedding digital citizenship in daily classroom encounters. However, the most important aspect of creating and implementing a digital citizenship program is to really involve every member of the school community so that all areas will be covered. Getting contributions from each member of the community gives the message that every one’s idea is important and vital to the framework.
  4. Model digital citizenship. Students shouldn’t only be the ones who are practicing digital citizenship. Teachers and parents should also be role models to effectively develop digital citizenship skills among learners.

#DigCit in 1 minute

Here is a short-video from the 1-Minute Professional Learning, a team that works on bite-size professional learning videos for teachers, on the importance of digital citizenship. The team’s videos are accessible at: http://facebook.com/1minutePL/

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To Blend or Not to Blend and More Questions to Ask About Blended Learning

Blended learning refers to the delivery of formal education through a thoughtful combination of online learning and delivery of content and instruction with varied degree of student control over time, place, pace and with face-to-face encounter done in a brick-and-mortar setup, such as the school (Staker and Horn, 2012).

There are four main models of blended-learning with differences on how much time or of the content or instruction will be delivered online or done via face-to-face interaction in a normal classroom. These models are the enriched-virtual model, self-blend model, flex model, and rotation model (with more types under it – station rotation model, lab-rotation model, flipped-classroom model, and individual rotation model).

 

A number of studies have been done in various K-12 schools around the world which showed how blended learning had impacted student achievement and the improved the quality of instruction. Classrooms have been flipped to enhance learning and to give more time for practicing of skills in the classroom and for giving high quality and meaningful feedback to learners. The setup of chairs, tables, and computers in the classroom has been dramatically modified to accommodate the various learning stations needed for students to fully experience the positive effect of blended learning.

In the Philippines, De La Salle Santiago Zobel has been utilizing the power of blended learning under their successful Next Generation Blended Learning Program. In my school, while blended learning has not been officially adopted, flipped classrooms have gotten some teachers creating their own instructional videos and using apps such as EdPuzzle. Mr. Keith Sy, one of the Ed Tech champions in our school has created some awesome videos for his Social Studies class. He successfully infused a station rotation setup and at the same time, giving more opportunities for differentiated learning activities to happen. Read some of his experiences with flipped classroom in his blog. Watch a one of his flipped videos about Philippine History here.

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One noticeable observation is that a number of schools have chosen to leverage the use of technology tools to enhance self-directed learning and instruction in students and the need for the teachers to interact with students to provide feedback and to build meaningful relationships with the students through face-to-face interaction. And I believe that the beauty behind blended learning is the big possibility to fuse the possibilities of technology integrated lessons and content delivery  while highlighting and dedicating more time to build relationships with students via face-to-face encounter.

So, while schools chew on the question whether to blend or not to blend, I present some more specific questions that can help stakeholders or members of the school community as they explore this form of education.

  • Why do blended learning? What is the “why” of the school? What are the “why’s” of the various stakeholders? Why now?
  • How will blended learning help students achieve the intended learning outcomes?
  • Are the students, teachers, and parents ready for a blended approach?
  • How will student’s age, readiness or even developmental maturity affect the adoption of blended learning?
  • Which blended learning model is appropriate for students?
  • How will blended learning modify or change classroom instruction, assessment, management, and lesson preparation?
  • What kind of support will teachers need in order to be prepared for the adoption?
  • What kind of resources will the students and teachers need for blended learning to happen
  • Are the stakeholders and members of the community capable of acquiring the technology needed? Are there provisions to help those who may encounter problems regarding the technological tool needs?
  • What new policies will be placed to ensure that blended learning is maximized for the good of all members of the school community?

The promise of blended learning has been slowly realized in schools or institutions that have adopted it. Blended learning is far from being a hype among the members of and stakeholders in the education community. It is here to stay.

 

Reference: Staker, H., & Horn, M. B. (2012). Classifying K-12 Blended Learning. Innosight Institute.