In Chapter 2 Digital Community Digital Citizenship (2010), Jason Ohler referenced three communities: digital, local, and global. Educators and parents need to help children prepare and engage in these communities. In the past educators only had to worry about preparing students for their local community making sure they were good citizens and well rounded individuals, citizens that someone would want to be neighbors with or could be hired locally. But now our lives reach so much further. So at what age should students be learning about these different communities and how to be a good digital citizen, in Kindergarten, middle school, or high school.
With keeping the three communities in mind it will be important for educators and parents to help children find their way through the communities. It can be difficult for adults to manage and interact in the communities, so how can we expect children to know how to behave and know appropriate things to do in these communities. If kids are digital natives and they grow up using technology day in and day out, we need to make sure they know how to navigate the communities that they will encounter as a result of the technology. In my district we have technology teachers who come into classrooms to model technology lesson plans for teachers and students. The tech teacher at my school came into my classroom to do a digital citizenship lesson for my students, a requirement if I wanted my students to be able to use Googledocs in the classroom. The tech teacher asked my students if they had ever experienced online bullying or inappropriate behavior online. One of my students raised his hand and then told us all about how he plays Call of Duty on his PlayStation and he can play with other people online. The game system is connected to the Internet and he wears headphones with a microphone, so he can interact with his team members. He continued to tell us that one time when he accidently killed the wrong guy in the game one of the guys on his team swore at him using the “F” word and called him stupid. I was shocked; my first thought is why is a third grade student playing video games with people he doesn’t know online? Then of course I was wondering why is my student playing that game at all? According to Ohler (2010), there is a need to teach students about strangers in the digital world. Students need to understand that not all strangers mean danger. Many of the people we may communicate with may be strangers, but that does not mean we can’t learn and interact with each other. Educators and parents will need to help their children navigate their child’s digital worlds, it’s great that we live in a world where we can be more connected without actually being in the same town, state, or country. But children don’t grow up knowing how to appropriately use and communicate through these communities. Those skills need to be taught and modeled.
I believe in the future there will need to be a push for more education with digital citizenship and helping students learn to navigate their local, digital, and global communities, to ensure we have citizens that we would want to associate and interact with. As an educator I have decided to research ideas and ways to teach my third graders more about the importance of being a good digital citizen. In the other course I am taking this semester: Instructional Design in Technology we are required to create a unit using Grant Wiggins Understanding by Design (UbD). I have decided to create my UbD unit on the topic of Digital Citizenship, in the hopes that my students better understand their role in their local, digital and global communities.
Ohler, J. B. (2010). Digital community, digital citizen. SAGE Publications.