News

Digital Citizenship Presentations Teach Students Online Ethics

By Maddie McDonagh

 

The word “citizenship” was seldom associated with the digital world in past years. However, Acalanes students are now being informed of the important connection between the two, especially in today’s society. The internet and social media has become a powerful source of communication for students all over the country, and as a result the federal government now requires schools to teach digital citizenship to teens. Digital citizenship, which is sometimes referred to as digital ethics, covers how one should act online and outlines the responsible uses of technology.

  Acalanes emphasized this concept of online character and safety by showing a school-wide presentation on digital citizenship to students in their second period class on Thursday, October 22. This is the first presentation of four that will be shown over the course of the year by different teachers, one for each quarter.

  In the past years, digital citizenship education at Acalanes has been inconsistent and scattered, according to Associate Principal Travis Bell. Some biology students went to the library to learn about plagiarism, but not all teachers addressed the topic in classes and there was no uniform digital citizenship education for all students.

  “It was hit or miss,” Bell said. “We really felt that there was a need to have kind of a systematic approach to teaching digital citizenship education.”

  Over the summer, a handful of teachers, tech coordinators, district tech personnel and administrators from all four schools in the district gathered to discuss the role of technology in the Acalanes Union High School District. This committee determined that each school in the district would be responsible for figuring out how to teach digital education to their students.

  Acalanes Tech Coordinator and history teacher Cass Mulholland, Librarian Barbara Burkhalter and Bell deliberated over several ideas for addressing digital citizenship at Acalanes, including holding an assembly. However, they soon came to the conclusion that the best way for students to be educated about online safety would be to simply have teachers show a presentation in class and facilitate a discussion.

  After the plan to show presentations was made, it was decided that the students would hear a portion of the presentation from a different teacher each quarter. A communication schedule would be slightly modified to accommodate the time needed for the presentation so that students could hear different perspectives from different teachers.

  “We wanted to make sure that students heard from different teachers so that they could have a more well rounded understanding of digital citizenship,” Bell said.

  The first presentation of the year addressed how students need to be thoughtful about what they choose to post online because it may have severe consequences in the future. This is a concept known as online presence. The next three topics shown throughout the year will cover cyber bullying, safety and privacy, and digital academic integrity. Each topic will be presented during a different class period, one per quarter, throughout the year.

  So far Acalanes is the only school in the district to present any sort of official digital citizenship information to all students.

  “I’m excited to hear what other schools are doing to see if there are some better ideas out there or if we can share the best ideas and maybe come up with a district wide best way to do it,” Bell said.

  Many students responded well to the slide show and thought that it presented very relevant information.

  “The presentation was very informational overall. It was important that we took time out of class to talk about it because digital citizenship is a big deal right now in the world with all our technology,” sophomore Alice Ma said.

  Math teacher Julee Henderson also admired how the Acalanes staff came together to figure out a way to present such valuable information.

  “I really appreciated how organized it was and how easy it was for me as an outside educator to talk to the class about something that I’m learning about too,” Henderson said, “We found it really educational, and I look forward to the other presentations that I’m going to be giving later.”

  Bell, Mulholland, and Burkhalter hope to get some student feedback on all of the digital citizenship presentations throughout the year in order to make sure this method is as effective as possible. The ultimate goal is to make sure students are exhibiting good character online and accessing the online world with caution.

  “I hope that this is something that we refine over the course of the next few years so that we do have more of a systematic approach to helping make sure that our students safe and savvy online when it comes to digital citizenship,” Bell said.

  Many students responded well to the slide show and thought that it presented very relevant information.

  “The presentation was very informational overall. It was important that we took time out of class to talk about it because digital citizenship is a big deal right now in the world with all our technology,” sophomore Alice Ma said.

  Math teacher Julee Henderson also admired how the Acalanes staff came together to figure out a way to present such valuable information.

  “I really appreciated how organized it was and how easy it was for me as an outside educator to talk to the class about something that I’m learning about too,” Henderson said, “We found it really educational, and I look forward to the other presentations that I’m going to be giving later.”

  Bell, Mulholland, and Burkhalter hope to get some student feedback on all of the digital citizenship presentations throughout the year in order to make sure this method is as effective as possible. The ultimate goal is to make sure students are exhibiting good character online and accessing the online world with caution.

  “I hope that this is something that we refine over the course of the next few years so that we do have more of a systematic approach to helping make sure that our students safe and savvy online when it comes to digital citizenship,” Bell said.

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