Growing Up in a Digital Age: Understanding Gen Z Students

Digital Citizenship week may have just passed, but there is still time to help our students become responsible citizens. Nicole Zumpano explores the mindset of Generation Z students, focusing specifically on what research says about their interactions with the digital world.

Building on Digital Citizenship Week 2020

Digital Citizenship Week 2020 (October 19-23) has come and passed, but that doesn’t mean your students have missed out on an opportunity to grow their 21st century skillset. Many leading EdTech companies and organizations offer resources and tools for year-round digital citizenship education.

If you’re still looking for ways to include digital citizenship essentials in your class’ curriculum, be sure to check out the following resources and tools while drawing up your lesson plans.

What is Digital Citizenship?

In essence, “digital citizenship” is a collection of thoughts and actions that promote positive, honest, and critical discussions among digital community members. Often, digital citizenship takes the form of adaptable routines that allow an individual to safely and securely navigate digital content – both in and out of the classroom.

Without a doubt, digital citizenship is important for students to learn year-round. Even a lesson or two on the core principles of digital citizenship can help students implement it in their daily lives. Building awareness for these principles starts in the classroom, though, which is why educators across the spectrum should consider utilizing the following digital citizenship tools and resources.

Resources for Year-Round Digital Citizenship

Be Internet Awesome

Be Internet Awesome is a recent Google-led initiative to empower students to make educated decisions online.

This initiative’s curricular materials focus on teaching students both the knowledge and practical skills needed to be smart, alert, strong, kind, and brave online. Each lesson has also been designed to stand on its own. As a result, educators who want to make the most of their classroom time can drop a lesson into their pre-existing curriculum.

Google has also produced a high-quality, interactive adventure – Interland – that students of numerous grade levels can enjoy. Each Be Internet Awesome curriculum lesson is capped with an Interland experience, so students will be able to immediately put what they’ve learned into practice.

Common Sense Education

Common Sense Education has recognized an ongoing need to build flexible, contemporary skillsets for navigating the open internet. That’s why they’ve created a variety of curricular resources for grades 5-18 – each of which include age-appropriate activities that will help students take ownership of their digital lives.

Common Sense Education’s digital citizenship content is also designed with simplified incorporation in mind. That’s why they’ve also put out this useful Implementation Guide for free. In it, you’ll find planning guides, case studies, and classroom posters that can help your department form a unified approach to teaching digital citizenship.

New for 2020

This year, Common Sense Education again added to their Digital Citizenship Week catalogue of free resources. In particular, their Digital Citizenship Week 2020 collection includes new ways to engage grade, middle, and high school students. This includes short and long lessons centered around open-ended questions, such as “how am I being a digital citizen today?” and “how can I think critically about the things I see, create, and share?”

All of these new resources can be implemented efficiently, as well. Each set of lessons comes with a customizable planning calendar and student activity sheets that align with each lesson’s goals.

Tools for Supporting Digital Citizenship

Securly Auditor

One key aspect of digital citizenship revolves around the prevention and elimination of cyberbullying, as well as other negative online behavior patterns. While that can take some practice over time, Securly’s Auditor engine can support an educator’s efforts to spot violence and graphic content in student-related communications before they become a problem.

At the same time, Auditor can help identify at-risk students early on. In particular, Auditor’s interface allows educators to continuously scan emails, attachments, and documents – all within Google Suite. Any tagged material is then brought immediately to an admin’s attention via a responsive alert system.

Impero Back:drop

Impero’s back:drop is another well-regarded digital classroom management platform that digital citizenship-focused educators should take note of. This free-forever platform is FERPA-, COPPA-, and HIPAA- compliant, making it ideal for use in schools where student data security is a top priority.

Purchasing Opportunities through ILTPP

Several of the companies mentioned above – including Impero and Securly – are vendor partners of the Illinois Learning Technology Purchase Program (ILTPP). ILTPP is an LTC cooperative program that aggregates buying power and expertise to procure technology products and services for educational institutions across the state.

Through ILTPP, your school or district may be able to obtain a discount when purchasing several of the digital citizenship-building resources and tools outlined above. Check out their website to learn more about ILTPP’s current purchasing opportunities.

The LTC also provides additional support and resources for educators who are looking to enhance their curricular offerings. Be sure to check our website often for new online courses, PD opportunities, and more.

Digital Citizenship Tips for Remote Learning

Event Description

Students are spending more time learning online than ever before. How do we help students do so safely, appropriately, and effectively during remote learning? How can teachers develop safe and secure online learning environments? Join Lisa Schwartz and Matt Jacobson for a discussion of tips and resources to help you promote Digital Citizenship while learning remotely.

Presenter Bio

Matt Jacobson is the Online Learning Specialist for the Learning Technology Center of Illinois. Matt develops engaging synchronous and asynchronous online and in-person training opportunities for educators and administrators. He also provides coaching, consulting, and training services for schools developing online and blended learning activities for students and staff. Matt provides administration and coaching on a variety of Learning Management Systems and many other online tools.

Matt provides almost three decades of experience in helping students and schools innovate. Prior to working with the LTC, Matt was a middle school consultant and has worked as a teacher, administrator, coach, and trainer for preK-12 schools in central Illinois.

 

Digital Citizenship Resources for Every Classroom

Digital Citzenship Image

What is Digital Citizenship?

Digital Citizenship is more than just teaching students how to be safe online. Good digital citizens know how to use technology to foster better online communities with both local and global relationships. They can identify the validity of information and use technology to communicate responsibly and respectfully, even with individuals who don’t share their views. Good digital citizens use technology in a positive way to share ideas and participate both locally and globally.   

Why is Digital Citizenship Important?

Data (2019) from Cyberbullying Research Center shows that 37% of students – more than 1 of every 3 – have experienced some form of unwanted harassment or mistreatment with technology. This represents an increase of 35% over studies from 2016. Research done by the Pew Research Center suggests this number may be much higher among teens, perhaps up to 59% of this age group has been affected. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, those affected by bullying have increased risk of depression, anxiety, academic problems, and a number of other factors that lead to decreased quality of life.

According to the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), teaching digital citizenship can “help create thoughtful, empathetic digital citizens who can wrestle with the important ethical questions at the intersection of technology and humanity.” Helping our students develop into good citizens, digital or otherwise, empowers our communities to become more positive places in the future. 

Digital Citizenship Teaching Resources

A number of resources are available to support educators and parents as they work together to improve students’ digital citizenship skills.  

  • Common Sense Education has developed a free, comprehensive digital citizenship curriculum for all grade levels.  Resources include both online and offline activities, and parent engagement ideas are also available. Make sure you check out LTC’s webinar discussing these resources!
  • Google’s Be Internet Awesome curriculum is also free and is supported by a series of fun and challenging interactive games called Interland.  
  • Edutopia has curated an extensive listing of resources that can be used by educators and community groups to support digital citizenship. 
  • ISTE had developed a variety of resources supporting digital citizenship in schools, including classroom resources, professional publications, and an online course on teaching digital citizenship.

Closing

Teaching digital citizenship has never been more important to building a positive, collaborative, and safe online community. In addition to the resources noted above, follow the hashtags #DigCit and #DigCitCommit on social media to stay up-to-date on the latest developments and trends in digital citizenship instruction. 


Bibliography

Today’s students have access to more information than ever before. Many students enter the data-rich world with few skills to manage the myriad of opportunities and pitfalls they might encounter. This is when the concept of Digital Citizenship becomes relevant and evermore important. 

Tech Check: Get Your Digital Life Organized

May is a great time of year, isn’t it? The weather is changing, spring flowers appear, and many educators are excited about another school year coming to a close. There’s much to do, lots of spring cleaning, packing up, and getting things in order before summer break.

We focus on our physical environment when we think of organization, but how about digital organization? Have you done any “spring cleaning” or tidying up of your digital life? As our existence incorporates more technology it’s important to keep up with what is out there and how organized it is! I’ve developed a checklist detailing what I do each month to stay digitally organized. Below are a few of my favorites that I would recommend.

  1. Run Who has Access– This website scans your Google Drive and shows you who has access to your Drive contents.  If you see folks that no longer need access, they can be removed directly in the report. The service deletes its own access to your Drive along with your Drive data from its servers 24 hours after running your report. This tool is especially useful for school administrators who may have a change in personnel each school year. https://www.whohasaccess.com
  2. Check your Social Media Settings– we visit these sites daily, often popping in and out several times to catch glimpses into what is happening around our world. When was the last time you took the time to go through your privacy settings? How about your followers? Go a step further and do a self-audit of your social media posts. Look at the last 15 things you posted. Was your overall message positive? Do they represent the image you want others to have of you? Here are some resources to get you started on your self-social media audit.

https://identity.utexas.edu/everyone/how-to-manage-your-social-media-privacy-settings

https://sites.google.com/site/mydigitalrep/social-media

  1. Password Protection– Generate a list of passwords for the family. (This may sound morbid but social media and email platforms require extensive documentation to shut down accounts without passwords due to the death of a user). Have everyone in the family write down all known passwords. If some are reluctant to share, have them create the list and place it in a sealed envelope (don’t open it) and keep it someplace it can be easily accessed if something happens to you or a family member.  I keep it in our safe.  Get a list of passwords for everyone in the family but be sure to have clear conversations AND FOLLOW THEM if there is a privacy concern.  

These are just a few of the many ways I try to keep my digital-self organized. If you’d like to see the full list, it is available here: http://bit.ly/Tech-Check

What would you recommend?

What is media literacy and why should you teach it in your classroom?

How many advertisements do you come across in one day- ten, fifty, hundreds, thousands? Some sources say we encounter 4,0005,000 ads a day all trying to persuade us to do something, believe something or buy something (while making money for their shareholders). We may not be consciously aware of seeing these ads, nor are our students who are exposed to the same content we are on a daily basis. Are students equipped to recognize when they are being manipulated? Probably not. Media literacy is a skill, not a topic. It is the responsibility of every educator; in every subject, in every school.

The goal of teaching media literacy is to educate our students on how to question what they see. Media literacy has dozens of “subtopics” that can be explored year-round in your classroom. This post shares some fun media facts, concepts, and resources to get you started.  

Media Literacy “Fun Facts”

  • Media is not good or bad; it is just a tool that delivers content.
  • Adults spend 12 hours, 7 minutes a day consuming media.
  • It is estimated that 6 companies own close to 90% of media.
  • Magazines print different editions for different areas and demographics.
  • Advertisers focus on women’s bodies as “parts of a whole”, so they always have something to fix.
  • Personification in advertising plays to our emotions and seeks to have us form “relationships” with products, giving alcohol names such as  ‘Jim Beam’ to imply that we are not drinking alone).

Media Literacy Concepts

  • Media constructs our culture.
  • Media messages affect our thoughts, attitudes, and actions.
  • Media uses different “persuasion” tactics to get you to do something, buy something or believe in something.
  • Media constructs fantasy worlds.
  • No one tells the whole story.
  • Media messages reflect the values and viewpoints of the media maker.
  • Individuals construct their own meanings from media.
  • Media messages can be decoded.
  • Media messages contain “texts” and “subtexts”. Each person creates subtext based on prior experiences, prior knowledge, opinions, attitudes, and values.

Nicole’s Favorite Resources

Digital Citizenship Week Recap

The Learning Technology Center of Illinois participated in Digital Citizenship Week October 15th-19th, 2018. Throughout the week, LTC staff curated and shared various digital citizenship resources through social media channels. Here are the full collection of resources from Regional Educational Technology Coordinators for use with your students.

For more great resources, be sure to sign up for our newsletter and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

3 Great Resources to Teach Digital Citizenship

Understanding how to interact with the digital world is more important than ever. Being an outstanding digital citizen is vital for our kids today. In this post, I’ve collected my favorite three websites that can help you, as an educator, prepare your students to be good digital citizens! The first website gives you, the teacher, background information and resources for your class. While the following two websites give kids a space to learn at their own pace, digital citizenship information through interactive quests or games. 21 Things 4 Teachers For any teacher who is new to teaching digital citizenship in their classroom, this website provides great resources on the nine themes of digital citizenship. The nine themes of digital citizenship are broken down into three categories, Respect, Educate and Protect.

Respect Yourself/Respect Others

  • Digital Access
  • Digital Etiquette
  • Digital Law

Educate Yourself/Connect with Others

  • Digital Commerce
  • Digital Communication
  • Digital Literacy

Protect Yourself/Protect Others

  • Digital Rights & Responsibilities
  • Digital Health & Wellness
  • Digital Security

This background information leads into the quests the students can do for 21 Things 4 Students. 21 Things 4 Students Students can participate in quests to learn about the digital world through project-based activities. This curriculum is free and allows students to go at their own pace. The students will watch videos, read the material, complete surveys and see the results, and reflect on what they learn through various activities.  Each “thing” is standalone to the other “things”, so you may choose to assign certain topics from the 21 Things 4 Students activity list. Common Sense Digital Passport Common Sense Digital Passport has six interactive games for grades 3 – 5. Each game allows students to learn more about digital citizenship, safety, and etiquette. If you are hesitant about how to incorporate this into your curriculum, Common Sense has an educator guide to help you plan. The topics that are covered in the six interactive games include:

  • Security
  • Multitasking
  • Privacy
  • Upstander
  • Search
  • Creative Credit

Encourage Digital Media Literacy with Listenwise and Allsides

In today’s world, our students continually face claims of fake news and information from biased or unreliable sources. While this is often difficult for adults to deal with, it can be extremely challenging for students to navigate the constant stream of information available to them. An important aspect of digital citizenship is learning how to decipher what is quality sourced information, and what is not.

As teachers, we have the ability to leverage online tools in our classrooms that teach our students how to critically think through and evaluate online content. While there are many resources available on the internet, two stand out as great tools to assist students in learning how to consider the reliability of the information with which they come into contact. This quick video features Listenwise and AllSides as two great websites that assist students in recognizing arguments and critically thinking through their content.

 

What Does Your Tattoo Say About You?

Do you have a tattoo?  What’s the story behind it?  What does it say about who you are?  Tattoos have been around for over 5,000 years.  For centuries people have been marking their bodies for a variety of purposes; love, status, tribute, and medical just to name a few.  Today the tattoo industry is busier than ever, although an internet search for “tattoo removal” proves there are clearly some that regret the decision.  Is our online existence that much different? Do we not post statuses that declare our love, tribute, medical dilemmas and more, much like people tattoo their skin?  If that is the case, do we not regret some of our social media posts as well?

The term “digital footprint” is well known and represents what trace of us we leave behind when we are visible and active online.  It is a catchy phrase, but in my opinion not completely accurate. Footprints can be washed away. They can be covered over so they are no longer visible.  A tattoo is much more difficult to make disappear. Even in attempts to remove tattoos, there is always some trace of the scar (or ink) that remains. It is important to teach our students that what they do online never truly goes away. What better place to start than with us, the educators. As such, it is our responsibility to know what our online reputation looks like so we can help guide our students in developing theirs. As an adjunct professor my courses always include data mining. Sometimes, I give my students a “stranger” (aka a friend of mine that they don’t know) to find as much information on as they can (what’s fun about this one is I have them make a slideshow of their results and send it to the actual friend!). Sometimes I have them create a curriculum vitae of their online persona, using only the data they find about themselves online (that one can be an eye-opener!). In all instances, my graduate students (who are almost all in the education field) have a chance to take a “deep dive” into their online brand. The purpose of this activity? Once we have a clear understanding and feel the emotion of what we find online, albeit positive or negative, we are better equipped and invested in passing this on to our students.

Following are tips and resources to get started on your own data dive.

Tips:

  • Log out of all internet browsers before searching (being logged in will skew your results)
  • Use quotation marks when searching (i.e. “Nicole M Zumpano”)
  • Search using multiple search engines and browsers (i.e. Google, Firefox, Safari, Bing, Internet Explorer)
  • Search using your professional name (I go professionally using my middle initial; Nicole M Zumpano)
  • Search images
  • Search using your social media usernames
  • If married, search using your maiden name

Help Documents:

http://bit.ly/Data-Mine (This one lists several sites you can use to conduct a data mine on yourself)

http://bit.ly/Data-Adventure (This one is a “Choose Your Own Adventure” related to digital tattoos)

http://bit.ly/Tech-Check (Finally, clean up your digital life! This is a monthly “to-do” list to keep your digital existence in order!)

Being aware of the image you portray (or don’t portray) online is one of the first steps to a healthy digital literacy diet. Happy mining!