Prepare your students for a digital world by teaching digital responsibility.
Whether your school is one-to-one, using class sets of tablets, or even BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), the need for digital responsibility in and out of the classroom has never been greater. Many students are not aware of the digital footprint they are creating, and how important it may be when it is time to apply for a job. Help your students become digital citizens so that they may think twice before their next upload to social media or YouTube.
Know the Sites You Can Trust
Many students innately trust anything they find online simply because it is on the Internet! One of the first lessons for your students is teaching them how to decide what sites they can trust and what sites they cannot. This includes scams and inaccurate information. Ask your students to be a detective and establish criteria to check for accuracy and quality. This may include checking the source, author, and publication date.
Give Credit Where it is Due
While images, text, and videos are easy to find on the Internet, someone created each of these. Ensure your students understand that they need to give credit to these authors and artists when using their work, especially in school projects. This includes citing their sources and attaining permissions for any work that they may include in a presentation. You may even want to lead a discussion about copyrighting to further this lesson on digital responsibility. Show students resources, such as Wikimedia Commons, that have open licenses.
Social media is ever present in our students’ lives, and many don’t realize that their posts can come back to haunt them later on! Many employers are checking social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter as part of applicant research. CareerBuilder reports that up to 52% of employers checked prospective employees’ social media this past year! Get parents involved in developing digital responsibility and ask them to work with their students to transform their online presence.
Developing a Professional Persona
Ask students to review their social media presence over the last year or two. Are there any pictures they regret posting? Any embarrassing posts? While they may not realize it, there may be people looking into their past. It is very difficult and sometimes impossible to erase this information. Encourage your students to consider their voice and how they are being perceived.
When communicating with others online, it is important to still follow manners and social rules. This even includes not typing in all caps and checking your spelling. What is especially important is being aware of your language and tone. Cyberbulling is a growing issue among our students and should be an important learning opportunity when teaching digital responsibility. If you wouldn’t say it to their face, don’t say it online!
Keep Your Identity
It is important to keep personal information private, especially information that can be used to determine your identity. As you saw in our first tip, students are quick to trust websites and online personalities. Teach your students the importance of keeping identifying information about themselves private. This includes their address, phone number, email, parents’ names, and even how many siblings they have! Being cautious is just one more way to be digitally responsible.
Protect Your Privacy
Take this lesson one step further by encouraging students to check their passwords. It is very common for students to use the same password on multiple websites, as well as allowing software or websites to remember the password for them. This is a very easy way for someone to access their information. Passwords should include letters, numbers, and punctuation to add complexity. A great way to do this is to replace letters with numbers or punctuation. Another quick change is to use the fingerprint reader to unlock a device rather than a password or passcode.
Before your next research project or class blog, take a moment to share one or two of these tips for being digitally responsible. Just making students aware of the digital footprint we all leave can make a large impact on both their personal and professional lives!
Alexandra D. Owens
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