Friday, April 27, 2012

Digital Citizenship

I was back to my old roots today; teaching fourth grade at Wayne Center Elementary. My old teaching partner, Mrs. Page, graciously lets me visit her classroom to throw any technology I want at her students. A few weeks ago I introduced Scribble Press to her class, and they loved it. They started making books about predictions in their text. They would write what was happening on one page, illustrate it, and then write their prediction on the next page. However, we never got to the part where they need to sign-up for a Scribble Press account to be able to publish their piece. I have found it to be easier to teach them how to use the app first then later have them get an account so that they are not twitching with boredom in their seat.

Before we even got to the point of putting in their personal information to get an account, I spent a lengthy time discussing what it means to be a digital citizen. We started with discussing what being a good citizen is. After some discussion, they came to the conclusion that being a citizen means to do things that will benefit everyone as a whole. Perfect! That is exactly what it means to be a good digital citizen. We talked about all the garbage that people put on the internet that really just wastes everyone's time. We talked about how irritating it is when someone litters on the ground, and it is the same when someone litters the internet. It is an annoyance to other people. I think the greatest example (and most relevant to them) is YouTube. There is some great stuff on YouTube that is worthwhile watching, but there is also an abundance of litter on it with pointless videos and reckless comments.

So...how does this all relate to Scribble Press? Scribble Press is a site where the students can upload their books for the whole world to see. I stressed how vital it is for them to be good digital citizens, and not litter their website. So before they post, they must ask for permission first.

It is ironic however, because the students as soon as the students were in, they were able to download books from people on Scribble Press. What did they find? Quite a bit of litter. Here is an example you could even use with your students to discuss being a good digital citizen

[caption id="attachment_731" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Angry Bird book on Scribble Press"][/caption]



I understand this example could have been a legitimate attempt for the child that created it (which is why I didn't include the direct link to the book), but generally the students understand that this book could be of better quality. It isn't even necessarily that bad of an example, but I think we have to show the students a book that is just substandard enough to communicate the expectation there needs to be when posting online.

I encourage any of you using apps that post materials to the Internet to have this discussion with your students. It will benefit everyone in the long run. It is never too early to discuss it with your students. The earlier they learn this lesson, the less likely they are to behave poorly online in the future.