Is technology your friend or foe in the classroom? Are you a digital-savvy role model or two steps behind your ‘app-happy’ students?
Any teacher who has had to confiscate a student’s phone knows the challenges of teaching in the digital age – and that’s just during school hours! While digital technology offers wonderful learning opportunities, engages students and can streamline workloads, it has also created a whole new world of unique considerations.
Fortunately, teachers and school leaders can arm themselves with the skills and knowledge to successfully navigate the digital citizenship maze, and here are the top 5 reasons why they should:
Reason 1: Meet community expectations
As so often seen in the media, when a student makes a serious mis-step on social platforms, the school also finds itself in the spotlight. All schools are charged with developing students’ ICT capability in the Australian Curriculum – and that includes teaching them to be safe and responsible online. While parents ideally play a vital role in supervising their children’s online activities, in many families parents are less digitally skilled than their teenage children. Therefore, the leadership role of schools in educating students and parents is paramount. By empowering teachers with professional learning, schools are meeting a ‘duty of care’ to their students and can use that expertise to build a positive, informed culture around online behaviour.
Reason 2: Avoid the eye rolls! Bridge the generation gap
Given many young people have been using digital technology since they were toddlers, they can appear to be right across the latest apps and online trends without understanding the full impacts of their actions. In contrast, many teachers are not ‘digital natives’ and yet are charged with helping young people navigate this ever-changing terrain. Certainly, teachers need a detailed knowledge of the multiple dimensions of digital citizenship – legal, psychological, security, career and personal to name just a few. But they also need the language and strategies around how to talk about these issues with students. Helping teachers understand the reality of students’ online lives is crucial to establishing trust and open dialogue.
Reason 3: Digital footprints do not wash away
On average, Australian children aged 10 to 14 years have two active social media accounts and outside school spend 23 hours online per week. Although teachers can’t be expected to supervise this activity, they are well-positioned to help students understand that everything they do online has an impact, sometimes an irretrievable one. With social media, the content students post about themselves or others can be shared, used or altered without their permission, and can very quickly escalate out of their control. Understanding concepts such as ‘digital footprint’ and ‘digital reputation’ and being able to explains these to students is vital, because any damage to a young person’s reputation can last for years online – for example, when a potential employer searches their name during background checks. The topic of ‘sexting’ and the legal issues around it also requires essential guidance. Beyond formal training for teachers, schools can also provide students with a tailored digital citizenship program.
Reason 4: Help counter cyber bullying
Teachers are at the front line in detecting bullying and helping schools meet their student welfare obligations. Professional learning assists teachers to guide students towards safe and responsible technology use, and to successfully communicate what constitutes cyberbullying.
Reason 5: The business end
This is the stuff that doesn’t make the news but is essential for teachers to know and share with students. When conducting so much of our lives on the net, it would be crazy not to understand who owns what online, how to protect our personal data and student data, and manage our privacy settings. What’s more, teachers and students alike need to understand the correct and legal use of internet content for research.
How Jacaranda can help
To help teachers and schools navigate the unique issues that the online world brings we have designed the new Jacaranda Digital Citizenship Professional Development for teachers course. This online course educates teachers, school leaders and education specialists on how to become a responsible digital citizen, while providing the language and expertise to be able to discuss these issues with students.
The course is interesting, highly relevant and simple to complete, with videos presented by experts in child psychology, cyber security, law and recruitment. For more information, including features and pricing, visit the Jacaranda Digital Citizenship Professional Development for teachers page.
 Source: Office of the eSafety Commissioner. 2016 Parental Information Needs and Digital Youth Participation Survey – A nationally representative sample of 2278 children and youth (8-17 years)