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Learning Library Blog 5 ways educators can become digital citizenship leaders
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5 ways educators can become digital citizenship leaders

By Julie Randles
June 6, 2018
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You may be a tech-savvy educator who brings digital age lessons and projects to your classroom, but are you doing all you can to be a digital leader on campus?

After all, we're all digital citizens, and the latest lens on digital citizenship calls on educators and students to use technology conscientiously – and with empathy – to help make the world a better place.  

Nancy Watson, instructional technology specialist for Plano Independent School District in Texas, and Julie Paddock, instructional technology coach for the Edmonds School District in Lynwood, Washington, help educators walk the talk by providing these tips for becoming a digital leader at your school:

Model appropriate online connections. Educators can help students grasp the full definition of digital citizenship by introducing various positive ways to connect online. Demonstrate social media posts that are supportive and respectful, involve students in local social justice campaigns or use videoconferencing to connect your classroom to another classroom across the globe. All of these efforts show students how they can become proactive and empowered digital citizens.

Support colleagues who are just getting on board with edtech. Think back to when you first began integrating technology into your teaching; you likely wished you had a mentor to lead the way. Become that guide for the newbies on your campus by offering a range of support, including basic device support, answering questions, providing information on your favorite tools in short workshops or staff meetings and sharing your edtech journey – including the fails.

Connect students to opportunities to model positive digital citizenship. Students are ready and willing to be responsible digital citizens. After all, they’re the inventors of some of the coolest apps that solve real-world problems and model responsible tech use (think Sit With Us app and ReThink). When educators connect students to social justice or community service projects, not only do they get curriculum-related lesson, they are empowered to participate in their society and our democracy.

Get families in the game. Include tech tips, news articles about learning with tech and a definition of the new digital citizenship in parent newsletters. Shoot for providing information that creates family engagement, rather than parent involvement, which implies volunteering on campus or working at an event. After all, the goal is ongoing connection and learning.

Embed digital citizenship in classroom norms. Whenever you discuss classroom rules and norms, make sure you include the digital environment, too. Talk about what online conversations look like and how they compare to face-to-face conversations. Discuss how students can best represent themselves online and let students provide tips and examples. Share the terminology related to digital citizenship and be sure that terminology is being used schoolwide.

Watson and Paddock offer advice on how you can lead the way on digital citizenship in their recorded ISTE Expert Webinar, “Digital Empowerment: Everyone is a Digital Leader,” which covers:

  • Tips for leading the way on digital citizenship.
  • And explanation of the new lens on digital citizenship.
  • Ways to help students become digital leaders.

Julie Phillips Randles is a freelance writer and editor with 30 years of experience writing about education policy, leadership, curriculum and edtech.

This is an updated version of a post that published on Feb. 2, 2018. 

Download digital citizenship defined, a free guide for teachers and other educators.