Helping Our Students Find Their Way in the Digital Age

Road Sign

Road Sign by Ian Britton on flickr
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Part of being a good citizen in any society involves knowing and understanding the common rules and expectations governing behavior and following them. As a teacher, I assume that my 9th and 10th grade students have been in school long enough to know and understand the basic rules for behavior in school and in the classroom. However, I also make a point of explicitly discussing my expectations for the students’ behavior in our classroom community at the beginning of each year. I also share these expectations for behavior, in writing, for students and their parents, so there will not be any misunderstanding about what is expected and permissible.

Further, I carefully embed policy and procedure orientation and practice into my lessons during the first few weeks of class, so students, parents and I can work through any questions or problems with policies and procedures at the beginning of the year.

My point here is that, in explicitly outlining expectations for behavior and participation I am trying to help my students understand how to function successfully in our classroom so that everyone will feel secure and valued as we work together to further our learning throughout the year.

As I read this week about security issues and ethics in education, I thought about my experiences using technology with my students, and I realized that although I had used technology to complete many projects with my students, I had never taken the time to actually discuss security and ethical issues with them beyond some very general guidelines.

I now know that my approach to integrating technology in my instruction has to include careful, considered and explicit guidelines for students regarding safety as well as ethics. As their teacher, I need to engage my students in conversations regarding security and ethics when using technology and social media. I also need to provide opportunities for them to practice using what they learn and offer guidance and support as necessary.

There are many good sources of information available to help teachers, students and parents think about and discuss issues of security and ethical use of technology. The Computer Ethics Institute offers The Ten Commandments of Computer Ethics, which provides a good springboard for discussion within the classroom.

Blogger Jac de Haan also offers some suggestions for resources that teachers, students and parents can use to learn more about participating securely and effectively as digital citizens. And finally, the blog post on academic honesty by Megan Arnett and Amy Taylor provides educators with an excellent lesson and ideas for teaching students about avoiding plagiarism.

I want my students to be successful both inside and outside of our classroom. Part of their preparation for success has to include regular, intentional conversations and instruction about security and ethical issues related to their use of technology.



About amysullvn

I have taught 9th and 10th grade Intensive Reading and Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) for the past 8 years in Brevard County, FL. I am currently working toward the completion of my masters degree in Instructional Design and Technology/Educational Technology at the University of Central Florida.
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