5 Ways to Teach Cyber Safety and Digital Responsibility | #ISTE10


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If you missed the International Society for Technology in Education conference this year, the big themes were digital citizenship, networked literacy, and web 3.0. The largest roadblock for many teachers in integrating these topics in the classroom is what Mario Armstrong referred in the opening of ISTE as the Locked Net Monster. The driving force behind this locked net seems to be the fear of cyberbullying and the question of student safety.

What are YOU doing to teach digital safety, responsibility, and respect?

Most school’s answer to this question is NOTHING. This head in the sand approach is not only ineffective, but harmful for our students. In this approach, kids learn how to navigate the web, social media, and virtual worlds on their own with zero supervision or guidance. We, as educators, can no longer stand by and pretend that this world doesn’t exist.

How to teach digital safety, responsibility and respect:

Gain Parental Support

Parents and guardians have been “dateline-ized” by horror stories regarding the social web, facebook, and other forms of social media. You must have parent and guardian support if you are to be successful in your approach. Bring the community in first. Inform and educate them on the amazing power of the read, write web as it relates to student achievement, global citizenship, and the future.

Teach Digital Citizenship

Students are no longer operating at the local or national levels. Citizenship lessons should reach beyond into the digital and global levels.  Teach your students’ netiquette with the same importance that they are taught the rules of the road. We are not users but community members, stakeholders, citizens OF the web.

Empower Your Students

Help your kids develop a sense of ownership with the web. Allow them to be involved in the production of internet safety media. For example, check out http://supersocialsafety.blogspot.com. Kids review and report on the safety and practical use of websites, tools, and virtual worlds.

Combat the Myth of Anonymity

Teach your kids that behind every avatar or username there is a human being with feelings. We are never anonymous. Everything we do should have our name attached to it. Help your kids recognize the power of their digital footprint and give them opportunities to build and enhance their own.

Incorporate Social Media and the Power of the Read/Write Web in Your Classroom

Model responsible behavior and appropriate use of these powerful tools. Check out the Top 5 Ways to Use Twitter in the Classroom or the 21st Century Guide to Teaching and Learning for some ideas. Also, know that you yourself will not be able to see the power of these tools without becoming a learner first and a teacher second. So take time to build your own PLN and start contributing to the read, write web with blogs, wikis, and more.

Photo from Scott McLeod

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