#YourEduStory: The importance of citizenship

This week’s topic: Why do all students need to be digital citizens?

I’d change this to say “why do all students need to be citizens?” Whether you are on a digital or traditional platform, citizenship still applies. When the term digital citizenship is used, other educators assume it is the job of “tech” teachers to instruct. However, that could not be further from the truth. It’s everyone’s job just as general citizenship is everyone’s job. 
I am responsible for digital citizenship (along with the librarians) for digital citizenship. And, while I love the task, I know it’s more than our jobs – it’s everyone’s job. So, when we talk about digital citizenship, we need to be careful to reinforce the idea that everyone is part of it. The word “digitial” to some implies that it is for those of us who are digitally inclined (and I could write a separate blog on how we are all so-inclined.)
At my school, I started a digital citizenship focus group (yes, I know I hate the preface word) run by several teachers. Together, we created a Website for all staff to use. We have held (holding) two masses – one in the fall and one in the spring – for all students on how to be positive citizens. The lessons focus not on what NOT to do, but on what TO do. In April, we are organizing a chapel with three student speakers to present on their online presences. We want to highlight examples of how other students are using the online platform to do good. 
We want all students to be citizens because we want all students to make an impact. Every impact spreads. 
Digital citizenship is citizenship. By withholding devices or refusing to teach with devices, we are not showing students who to be positive citizens. Instead, we are only showing them what not to do. 
I watch as my brother and sister-in-law hand iPads and Kindles to my 3-year old niece. From an early age, she is figuring out how to make use of technology. We are not showing her. Rather, she is figuring it out in a way that she feels benefits her. But, what about creation? We only show consumption of technology. Children watch videos, listen to music, and play games. Where and when are they creating? This is part of being a citizen – a productive, creating member of society. 
We need all entities in students’ lives focused on providing opportunities for creation. When your child or student complains about something missing, have you helped them design a solution? Have you helped them use technology in a way that makes a difference? 
It’s not just important for our students to be positive citizens, but it’s important for us to. I can count very few of my colleagues who are using technology in a meaningful and impactful way both in the personal & professional lives. We need to model this use. We can’t be afraid of it. 
What will you do to make an impact? How will you make a difference? I started a blog last year, the Snapshot Diaries, to focus on the moments each day that I’m thankful for. It’s small, but it’s meaningful and it holds me accountable. It’s okay to start small. Just start.

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