Teaching Digital Citizenship and responsible Social Networking

Its hard to believe that it was only 6 weeks ago that I made a suggestion to one of our year 5 teachers, Jane, that we need to support our students in becoming smart and safe online citizens. She initially seemed hesitant and overwhelmed with how to squeeze another thing into the already crowded curriculum.

I took her hesitation as a motivation to find a way of integrating this into just one lesson per week, this was all she could commit to. I reflected upon my previous school’s practices, the accessible resources available to our students and the student’s self-motivation to make this project work.

I did my research and decided upon SuperClubs Plus (soon to become Scoodle). This online space makes many claims and has a range of  high profile sponsors including ACMA: Cyber Smart, DECD (South Australian Education Department), DEECD (Victorian Education Department), and Telstra to name a few.

The largely informal learning environment is exciting and motivating for children as they enjoy creating their own web pages, publishing articles and earning their ICT Awards, which covers 90% of the skills specified in their ICT curriculum.

Together Jane and I promoted SuperClubs to the students and once we got their log in details everyone was extremely excited. We could never have predicted the engagement that the students a having in this space.

As you can see from the image below with only half of our registered year 5 students actively using the site (the other class will be introduced this week) we have fantastic connection, engagement and enthusiasm.

SuperClubs Stats

These statistics are well above and beyond our initial expectations.

With this I have also recently received an email from Jane about the impact of the digital citizenship, connected learning and collaboration on task in among her students. The following is a list of success indicators that she has recognized:

JM5 students benefit in many ways from this (SuperClubs Plus) program…

  • Students read lots, have to comprehend.
  • If not sure on how to do something students have to work out the right questions to ask in order to achieve the Stars and gems.
  • Students are in constant communication with each other.
  • Boys are moving more slowly than girls but are still achieving.
  • ICT skills are going through the roof.
  • All students are willing to ask others both boys and girls.
  • Real collegiate feel among students.
  • They like the fact I can email them.
  • A real positive feel among students, no negative talk.
  • They love their home pages.
  • It is a platform that encourages friendship even the most unlikely, shy or students who don’t feel they fit in, are making connections.

Jane has also said to me that she is so impressed with the program that it will definitely be apart of her curriculum planning for the next year and further into the future.

Personally, I love the interaction and both face to face and online connections I am able to make with colleagues and students I wouldn’t normally interact with on a daily basis.

Connecting with SuperClubs Plus

I do believe this project has provided a wonderful foundation for our students in becoming responsible and knowledgeable digital citizens before they are legally aloud to sign up to Facebook or other social media site. This is beneficial in that what our students are learning now will ensure they have the knowledge to be responsible and employable in their future.

I am sure this is not the only way educators breach the subject of teaching social networking and digital citizenship to students who are not yet able to sign up to the more common social networks.

What are your experiences with digital citizenship education? How do you support students to be safe and responsible online, for now and their future?